MONDAY, Dec. 4, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Parents can get a reliable diagnosis for their child's skin condition simply by taking a smartphone photo and sending it to a dermatologist, new research suggests.
The finding offers a way to get around what experts describe as a dire shortage of pediatric dermatologists.
"Advances in smartphone photography, both in quality and image transmission, may improve access to care via direct parent-to-provider telemedicine," said study author Dr. Patrick McMahon. He is a pediatric dermatologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
"Our study shows that -- for the majority of cases -- parents can take photographs of sufficient quality to allow for accurate teledermatology diagnoses in pediatric skin conditions," McMahon said in a hospital news release.
"This is important because pediatric dermatologists are in short supply, with fewer than 300 board-certified physicians serving the nation's 75 million children," he added.
The study involved 40 families. Half of them were given photo-taking instructions, while the other half were not. Most were using an Apple iPhone.
The researchers then analyzed all images of pediatric skin conditions that were sent in between March and September of 2016.
Of 87 images, a digital diagnosis was in sync with an in-person diagnosis 83 percent of the time, according to the report.
The study authors noted that of the 200 million pediatric office visits that take place across the United States each year, 10 percent to 30 percent involve skin concerns.
"While many children's skin conditions can be handled without input from a pediatric dermatologist, the national shortage of specialists is a known barrier to accessing care," McMahon explained.
"Our findings suggest that telemedicine could improve access for patient families who have geographic, scheduling or financial limitations, as well as reducing wait times," he said.
The findings were published recently in the journal JAMA Dermatology.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on skin conditions.