Impact of dermatology eConsults on access to care and skin cancer screening in underserved populations: A model for teledermatology services in community health centers

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Abstract

Background

The clinical outcome of teledermatology with dermoscopy in large-scale primary care networks remains unclear.

Objective

We evaluate the impact of implementing a teledermatology consultation program with dermoscopy on a statewide scale, focusing on access to care and skin cancer screening for medically underserved populations.

Methods

Descriptive retrospective cohort study of 2385 dermatology referrals from primary care from June 2014 through November 2015.

Results

Before implementation of electronic consultations (eConsults), access to dermatology was limited; only 139 (11%) of 1258 referrals resulted in a confirmed appointment with a median wait time of 77 days. Post implementation, 499 of 1127 consults (44%) were sent electronically, and of those, 16% required a face-to-face visit with a median wait time of 28 days. Ten malignancies were identified via eConsults. Overall consult volume remained stable pre- and post-eConsult implementation.

Limitations

We evaluated eConsults in medically underserved populations seeking care at community health centers. Results might not be generalizable to other populations or in other settings.

Conclusion

eConsults increase access to dermatologic care and reduce wait times for patients receiving medical care at community health centers. Implementing dermoscopy into teledermatology could increase access to skin cancer screening and treatment for medically disadvantaged populations.

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