-The MetaOptima Team
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Teledermatology refers to the practice of dermatology online without the initial need to see a physician in person. This industry, with a record expansion of more than 600% in recent times, is expected to be worth $7 billion by 2020.1,2 The power of connectivity offered by these systems supports the readiness of interaction between patients and doctors and provide a great platform to add teledermoscopy services to their practice. This article will discuss the benefits of implementing teledermoscopy in general dermatology for improved patient and doctor experience.
1. Dermatology practices enhanced by online connectivity
One of the greatest challenges faced by current dermatology practice resides in the shortage of active practitioners to deal with the increasing demand of services. Realistically, average waiting times for patients to see a dermatologist vary anywhere from 35 days to several months in countries like the United States.3,4 Such periods can become dangerously excessive when dealing with skin cancer which shows such steep drops in survival rates if not treated at early stages.
Teledermatology surged as a solution to shorten the waiting lists for in-clinic visits by bridging the gap between the time a suspicious lesion shows and the time a qualified professional is available to analyze it, provide a diagnosis and subsequent treatment. The power of connectivity through online services has made modern mobile devices the perfect candidates to offer such capabilities. In fact, modern smartphones and tablets are currently employed as powerful imaging tools that can also seamlessly connect to patient-based dermatology apps to streamline image transferrals to a dermatologist’s inbox.
DermEngine and other intelligent dermatology software are the linking element in this whole process. As a consequence, practices with store-and-forward teledermatology services have become more prominent, leading to an increased connectivity of doctors with their patients for optimized workflows. Not only better communication is achieved, but also the certainty of reaching patients located remotely with more effective follow-up and treatment procedures, thus reducing waiting and diagnostic times.
2. What does teledermoscopy offer?
Building on this concept, dermoscopy is proven to provide a real advantage on the ease and accuracy of primary diagnosis in dermatology. The dermoscope, often referred as a dermatologist’s stethoscope, has become an indispensable tool for everyday practice by the vast majority of practitioners. Owed to the importance of dermoscopy in general dermatology, it is now extending to teledermoscopy as part of online dermatology practices.
Among the greatest benefits of dermoscopy is the greater accuracy obtained from magnified images of skin lesions. The observation of dermatoscopic imaging has shown a 1.6 times increase in accurate diagnosis compared to naked-eye examinations.5 To this respect, mobile devices have allowed for the use of mobile dermoscopes such as MoleScope, for the acquisition of medical grade images that can be easily stored and shared over dedicated mobile applications to the common hub provided by intelligent dermatology software. In this way, patients are empowered to conduct their own skin checks regularly, with the added bonus of providing dermoscopic images that can greatly affect accuracy. So much so, that studies show a net increment of around 15% in the exactitude of teledermatology-associated diagnoses compared to regular imaging.6
Thus, teledermoscopy has brought great advancements, allowing patients to provide higher grade imaging for improved accuracy in diagnosis. Given the constant advances in technology, the quality of images and connectivity features are expected to continue growing, making teledermoscopy a key tool in the fight against skin cancer.
The utilization of telemedicine services in dermatology has produced a significant change in patient/doctor interaction, particularly in dermatology underserved areas. Practically, the power of dermoscopic analysis is proving to be an optimal approach to improved diagnostic processes. Similarly, the access to such imaging through teledermatology services is becoming a stepping stone for providing better quality services, profiting simultaneously from reduced overall waiting times. Combined, this approach can offer streamlined workflows aiming towards early detection and higher patient survival rates.
-The MetaOptima Team