Remote consultations from dermatologists using a secure smartphone app have proven reliable at prioritizing care for hospitalized patients with skin conditions, according to a recent report in JAMA Dermatology.
Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that this teledermatology process can help deliver care more efficiently in busy academic hospitals and potentially in community hospital settings.
A national shortage and uneven distribution of dermatologists in the U.S. has caused scheduling concerns in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. Many hospitals do not have inpatient dermatology consultative services, and those that do often have limited availability for consults after hours and on weekends.
The study compared assessments of 50 hospitalized patients at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania between a face-to-face consultation with an inpatient dermatologist and a standardized teledermatology consultation with two experienced teledermatologists.
The team used a secure "store-and-forward" teledermatology smartphone app, which was developed through Penn Medicine's teledermatology program, in concert with the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
When the inpatient dermatologist recommended a patient be seen the same day, the teledermatologists independently suggested the same course of action in 90 percent of cases. The teledermatologists agreed in 95 percent of cases where the inpatient dermatologist had recommended a biopsy. The doctors completely agreed on a diagnosis 82 percent of the time, and partially agreed in 88 percent of cases, which is in line with the standard variation expected between providers.