News Feature | September 29, 2016

Walgreens Adds Virtual Dermatology To Telehealth Offerings

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Telehealth Superior To Inconvenient Office Visits

Iagnosis’ DermatologistOnCall allows patients to get advice for skin conditions.

Walgreens began offering telehealth services via MDLive in 2014, offering 24/7 access to board certified physicians via its mobile app, as Health IT Outcomes reported. It also began offering behavioral health services earlier this year in response to the growing need for mental health resources. Now, Walgreens has announced it is expanding its telehealth offerings with a new skin care platform.

According to a 2015 IBISWorld Industry Report, the average wait time for patients to see a dermatologist in the U.S. is 29 days, although in some underserved areas that wait time can exceed several months. The new Walgreens platform provides virtual consultations with dermatologists via the lagnosis’ DermatologistOnCall app, as well as information about skin conditions like eczema and acne from WebMD.

The Iagnosis app can diagnose and treat more than 3,000 medical conditions within 24 hours of the initial online visit. Patients can create an online profile which allows them to upload photos of their condition over a private and secure platform, receive answers to their medical questions, and choose to receive care from a licensed provider in their state. Online consultation fees are $59 per visit.

“This is another example of combining innovation and convenience to deliver tools and services that help deliver quality and affordable care to our customers anywhere, anytime,” explained Harry Leider, M.D., Walgreens chief medical officer. “The teledermatology offering and collaboration is a natural extension of some of the services we already provide and can serve as a resource for screening and potential early diagnosis of a variety of skin conditions.”

While teledermatology is gaining popularity as a way to cut healthcare costs while continuing to monitor and diagnosis skin conditions — a 2014 study found 90 percent agreement in office evaluations of skin conditions compared to those made via mobile phones — a recent study raised questions about its true effectiveness, as Health IT Outcomes reported. The research revealed virtual visits may be less than effective in treating patients, finding misdiagnosis and prescription errors among the study’s participants.