Skip to Main Content

We have a new app!

Take the Access library with you wherever you go—easy access to books, videos, images, podcasts, personalized features, and more.

Download the Access App here: iOS and Android. Learn more here!

OVERVIEW

image SUMMARY

  • Teledermatology is a currently expanding field with the potential to improve health care access and costs worldwide, reduce wait times for face-to-face dermatology visits, minimize unnecessary visits, and expedite critical diagnoses.

  • Teledermatology is comparable to face-to-face visits in diagnostic accuracy of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer.

  • Teledermoscopy may hold the key to transforming teledermatology from a tool of triage to a management strategy.

image DON’T FORGET

  • Teledermoscopy has been shown throughout the literature to improve the diagnostic accuracy of pigmented skin lesions.

image CLINICAL PEARLS

  • Refer to the American Telemedicine Association Practice Guidelines for Teledermatology and the American Academy of Dermatology Teledermatology Toolkit for detailed guidance on providing teledermatologic care.

image PATIENT EDUCATION POINTS

  • Patients should be educated on the proper use of direct-to-patient/consumer (teledermatologic mobile applications, which do not include app-based diagnoses or advice on clinical management.

  • U.S. Preventative Services Task Force guidelines on skin screening conclude that there is insufficient evidence currently to assess the risk versus benefit of visual skin cancer screening by clinicians.

INTRODUCTION

Telemedicine is distinctly applicable to the field of dermatology because the majority of skin is visible to the naked eye and dermatologic diagnoses are often made without elaborate laboratory testing or internal imaging. Teledermatology is defined as the remote provision of dermatologic patient care via telecommunication.1 Teledermatology is an expanding field with the potential to improve health care access, costs, reduce wait times for face-to-face (FTF) dermatology visits, minimize unnecessary FTF visits, and expedite critical diagnoses. Significant factors that improve the quality of teledermatology include proper image quality, dermatologist confidence in sharing medical advice online, the introduction of teledermoscopy, and the proficiency of the dermatologist regarding skill level and training in telemedicine.2

History

Telemedicine dates back to the 18th century when the sick would write letters to be delivered by courier to physicians who would reply with a diagnosis and treatment plan, including written prescriptions.3 The first mention of telemedicine in a PubMed article was in 1974,4 and discussion of teledermatology in the literature first occurred in 1995.5 The first remote dermatologic assessment occurred during the 1992 Department of Defense “Operation Restore Hope” relief mission in Somalia, where 74 teledermatology consultations for deployed troops were conducted that year.6 As computers and mobile phones have evolved to become more accessible and advanced, the field of teledermatology has since expanded to widespread use in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico.7

Significance

Teledermatology has improved the timeliness and accuracy of cancer diagnoses worldwide, including melanoma, keratinocyte carcinomas (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma), and other pigmented and nonpigmented lesions.8,9 The importance of early diagnosis of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers is widely understood. The prevalence of keratinocyte carcinomas far surpasses the prevalence of all ...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.