Teledermatology as reliable, efficient as in-person consults

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Remote consultations from dermatologists using a smartphone app have proven reliable and efficient at prioritizing inpatient consultations for patients with skin conditions.

Outlining their study results in JAMA Dermatology, researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania concluded that this method can help deliver dermatology care more efficiently in busy hospital settings. 

The study compared assessments of 50 hospitalized patients at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. When the inpatient dermatologist recommended that a patient be seen that day, the teledermatologists independently agreed 90 percent of the time, and 95 percent of the time when the inpatient dermatologist recommended a biopsy. What's more, the doctors completely agreed on a diagnosis 82 percent of the time, and partially agreed in 88 percent of cases.

"A substantial agreement between in-person and teledermatology consultants in this study demonstrates the reliability and potential of this platform," senior study author Misha Rosenbach, M.D. said in an announcement.

report published last summer by Research and Markets highlighted the global interest in telemedicine, particularly in the fields of teleradiology, telepathology and teledermatology, with cost seen as the major barrier to many programs.

Still, according to Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, the full potential of telehealth cannot be realized unless privacy and security risks are addressed up front.

To learn more:
- read the study abstract in JAMA Dermatology
- read the announcement from Penn Medicine

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