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Teledermatology (with a focus in dermoscopy) is becoming a widely-cited solution for lowering healthcare costs while reducing patient wait times. How accurate is this statement? The following article compares two studies which focus on the financial feasibility of providing teledermoscopy services to patients as an e-triage solution.
Communitas Clinics in the UK implemented a staggered teledermoscopy service designed to support primary care physicians in providing diagnoses so that dermatologists had the ability to focus on more urgent cases. With this method, physicians referred suspected skin cancer cases for a second opinion on a two-week urgent pathway, whereas most other cases are submitted via the teledermoscopy service.1
Medical professionals using the services reported a drastic decrease in costs with an increase in workflow efficiency. Primary statistics include:
- £388,000 saved on dermatology services (due to the majority of referrals being managed in primary care setting)
- Services are £49 compared with £159
- 1 in 10 patients referred to secondary management
- Practice reports running at a slight loss
- 89% of medical professionals would recommend the services to a colleague
- 100% of patients would recommend the services to loved ones
An interesting first case, it is surprising to note that although the practice saved an estimated £388,000, they report performing at a slight loss. However, workers conclude this to be because services are charged at £49 (rather than £159) and they are still actively building up their number of referrals. Additionally, they acknowledged that they would raise the cost of services slightly to account for a feasible source of income.
Perhaps one of the most interesting results are the satisfaction rates of the service itself, with 89% of physicians and 100% of patients satisfied with the care methodology. According to medical participants, it seems that teledermoscopy services served as an unexpected teaching tool, as they would include dermoscopic images of the patient’s spot with their referrals while including a potential diagnosis to support their education in dermoscopy. While perhaps not the primary goal of the services, it is clear that this serves as a valuable teaching resource considering that the majority of dermatology cases are initially filtered (or diagnosed) by a primary care physician.
Building on these concepts, part 2 of this article will review a second case study with a heavier focus on the greater healthcare industry and the implied effects this will have on the patients and medical professionals in terms of quality of care and costs.
-The MetaOptima Team
Topics: Teledermoscopy Advanced Teledermatology Teledermatology Services Teledermatology Platform Teledermatology Tele-Consult Tele-dermatology eTriage Services Best Teledermoscopy Teledermoscopy Software