With a high demand and long wait times for dermatology appointments, teledermatology can allow patients to be seen, diagnosed and treated sooner, and helps to prioritize care for urgent issues.=
Through the use of computers or mobile devices, physicians are able to provide remote dermatology consultations without the presence of the patient. The dermatologist is able to review a patient’s case and send a recommendation, which can be especially valuable for underserved and underinsured populations, who have limited access to dermatology care.
It’s important to note that while teledermatology is a useful tool, not all dermatology services may be performed remotely.
- Provide remote evaluation and diagnosis of some skin conditions
- Evaluate the need for in-person appointment
- Offer consultation services to assist other physicians
- Deliver follow-up care
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of teledermatology?
Because dermatologists are in such high demand, often with long wait-times for new appointments, this can cause delays in care. Teledermatology cuts down on these delays by expanding the reach of dermatologists to help patients who lack access to our specialty but need our help to triage and treat different varieties of skin conditions. Teledermatology also helps reduce critical health care disparities in dermatology by connecting the board-certified dermatologists at UMass Memorial Medical Center to underserved communities, whether in rural areas or urban impoverished neighborhoods.
How does teledermatology work?
Teledermatology utilizes a provider-to-provider consultative model (as opposed to direct-to-patient) in which the primary care physician (PCP) submits cases to an off-site UMass Memorial dermatologist after the in-person PCP appointment, rather than using real-time-video.
When a PCP identifies patients for whom a dermatologist’s input is needed, he or she logs in to the teledermatology computer, provides some basic demographic and historical information, and uploads photos. The partner dermatologist receives a notification about the case, logs in to teledermatology platform, then sends back a short-term diagnosis and recommendations plan, which can be implemented by the PCP.
Importantly, even if the skin condition can’t be easily diagnosed from photographs or requires a procedure, the dermatologist can determine if the concern is urgent (e.g., worrisome for a skin cancer) and make a recommendation to seek an in-person evaluation, which can expedite care.