Teledermatology consultation can optimize treatment of cutaneous disease by non-dermatologists in under-resourced clinics.

Holmes AN, Chansky PB, Simpson CL

Telemedicine & e-Health, 26(10):1284-90. DOI: 10.1089/tmj.2019.0217

PMID: 31800370

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Background: Access to dermatologists is limited for disadvantaged patients, who may receive suboptimal dermatologic care from nonspecialists. We assessed if teledermatology could improve primary care provider (PCP)-delivered care for cutaneous disease at a clinic serving uninsured patients.

Materials and Methods: Utilizing the American Academy of Dermatology’s free AccessDerm program, we offered store-and-forward teledermatology to PCPs, who initiated consultations at will during clinical care independent of the study. We retrospectively analyzed all consultations from 2013 to 2017 and collected patient age/sex, teledermatologist diagnosis, time to teledermatologist reply, time to next dermatology appointment, as well as PCP- and teledermatologist-proposed care plans.

Results: Retrospective analysis of 131 consults revealed a 37-h mean teledermatology response-time versus a 14-day appointment wait (p < 0.00001). Teledermatologists provided a definitive care plan without in-person evaluation for 82 (65%) of completed consults and recommended interim treatments while awaiting appointments in 15 cases, thus accelerating care plan delivery in 97 cases (76%). The triage decision rate differed among diagnostic categories; deferral to in-person evaluation was more frequent for neoplasms (p < 0.0001). When PCPs specified preconsult treatment plans, 82% differed from teledermatologist-advised management. Following teledermatologist recommendations would have changed the clinical course in 70% of cases, potentially avoiding suboptimal care, including inappropriate corticosteroids, antimicrobials, and emergency room referrals.

Conclusions: We found teledermatology can effectively guide PCPs in resource-limited settings by accelerating delivery of dermatologist-recommended care plans for uninsured patients. Expanding teledermatology for PCPs in under-resourced clinics has the potential to improve treatment of cutaneous disease by nonspecialists and to mitigate suboptimal care for disadvantaged patients.

Telemedicine & e-Health, 26(10):1284-90. DOI: 10.1089/tmj.2019.0217