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Teledermatology Is Reliable for Initial Triage Consultations

Teledermatologists usually agree with triage decisions of in-person dermatologist

TUESDAY, Feb. 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Teledermatology is reliable for initial triage of patients, according to a study published online Feb. 12 in JAMA Dermatology.

John S. Barbieri, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted a prospective study among 50 consenting adult patients, hospitalized for any indication, for whom an inpatient dermatology consultation was requested between Sept. 1, 2012, and April 31, 2013. An in-person dermatologist and two independent teledermatologists evaluated participants.

The researchers found that the teledermatologist agreed with the in-person dermatologist in 90 percent of consultations in which the in-person dermatologist recommended the patient be seen the same day, and in 95 percent of cases in which the in-person dermatologist recommended biopsy. There was substantial diagnostic agreement between the teledermatologist and the in-person dermatologist, even when the teledermatologist did not choose the same course of action. Teledermatologists were able to triage 60 and 10 percent of consultations to be seen the next day or later or as outpatients after discharge, respectively.

"Our study suggests that teledermatology is reliable for the initial triage of inpatient dermatologic consultations at an academic medical center and that it can potentially increase efficiency," the authors conclude. "We anticipate that future studies that refine the model presented here may find stronger concordance and efficiency gains."

One author disclosed financial ties to the telemedicine industry.

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