Diagnostic agreement and interobserver concordance with teledermoscopy referrals

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Abstract

Background

Malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers are among the fastest increasing malignancies in many countries. With the help of new tools, such as teledermoscopy referrals between primary health care and dermatology clinics, the management of these patients could be made more efficient.

Objective

To evaluate the diagnostic agreement and interobserver concordance achieved when assessing referrals sent through a mobile teledermoscopic referral system as compared to referrals sent via the current paper-based system without images.

Methods

The referral information from 80 teledermoscopy referrals and 77 paper referrals were evaluated by six Swedish dermatologists. They were asked to answer questions about the probable diagnosis, the priority, and a management decision.

Results

Teledermoscopy generally resulted in higher diagnostic agreement, better triaging and more malignant tumours being booked directly to surgery. The largest difference between the referral methods was seen for invasive melanomas. Referrals for benign lesions were significantly more often correctly resent to primary health care with teledermoscopy. However, referrals for cases of melanoma in situ were also incorrectly resent five times. The interobserver concordance was moderate with both methods.

Conclusion

By adding clinical and dermoscopic images to referrals, the triage process for both benign and dangerous skin tumours can be improved. With teledermoscopy, patients with melanoma especially can receive treatment more swiftly.

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