March 04, 2016
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Teledermatology services may lack quality of care

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WASHINGTON — Not all teledermatology services offer the same standard of care, with a lack of regulations meaning some may not offer consultations with licensed, board-certified dermatologists, according to research presented at an American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting symposium.

“Our session describes how teledermatology may be an integral part of the changing landscape,” Carrie Kovarik, MD, FAAD, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the symposium director and speaker, told Healio.com/Dermatology. “We’re really trying to help dermatologists to understand how to implement teledermatology into different practice settings and issues such as reimbursement, licensure, contract, and how different workflows may be implemented.”

Carrie Kovarik, MD

Carrie Kovarik

The session addresses the political landscape in teledermatology, including reimbursement and licensure, scope of practice of telemedicine in the U.S., direct-to-patient teledermatology and specific workflows in teledermatology.

Dermatologists were among the first specialists to utilize telemedicine, and the use of teledermatology is increasing as technology develops to accommodate it.

The growth has included development of direct-to-consumer websites and apps that patients can access themselves, according to an accompanying AAD press release.

“There are no regulations in place to ensure the quality of teledermatology services, so it’s important [for patients] to do [their] due diligence before seeking a remote consultation online or via a mobile app,” Kovarik stated in the release.

Not all teledermatology services offer consultations with board-certified dermatologists or allow patients to re-contact the initial provider for follow-up questions, Kovarik stated.

While about 20% of all patients who receive remote consultations require in-person follow-up, not all teledermatology services have a system in place that allows it, Kovarik reported.

“Remote consultations are a great option for patients, especially those without easy access to in-person dematologic care,” Kovarik said in the release. “Before engaging in remote consultation, patients should evaluate the teledermatology service to ensure they’ll be receiving quality care.”  – by Bruce Thiel

Reference:

Kovarik C, SYM S030. Teledermatology Working for You: Customizing Use in the Changing Healthcare Environment. Presented at: American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting; March 4-8; Washington, DC.

Disclosure: Kovarik reports no relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.