Remote consults through Teledermatology app proven reliable for hospitalized patients

TeledermatologyIn Philadelphia, a new and secure smart phone app has been proven to be effective in providing urgent care to hospitalized patients. This is based on the study published in JAMA Dermatology done by researchers from Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

According to senior study author Misha Rosenbach MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Director of the Dermatology inpatient Dermatology service at Penn Medicine, this smart phone app helps to deliver patient care more efficiently and allows dermatologists to maximize the time they spend in the inpatient setting. It allows them to do batch consults and schedule non-urgent cases for outpatient consults. It also lessens hospital trips making it convenient for the busy schedule of clinicians.

This smart phone teledermatology app is expected to solve the shortage and rather uneven distribution of physicians specializing in Dermatology in the United States. Rosenbach emphasizes that “Dermatology support is essential for hospitalized patients, but unfortunately many hospitals lack dermatology coverage.” This phone app may just be the answer to this problem.

In this healthcare research, 50 inpatients hospitalized in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania were evaluated. The diagnosis and management for these patients were compared between a personal consultation with a dermatologist and 2 tenured teledermatologists.

Results showed that in 90% of cases, the decision to see a patient on the same day were the same for both the in-house dermatologist and teledermatologist. Biopsy requested by inpatient dermatologists were agreed upon by teledermatologists 95 percent of the time. In diagnosis, both doctors agree with their assessments in 82 percent of cases. These variations are in line with the standard variability observed among physician visits.

A “store-and-forward” teledermatology smart phone app was used in the study. One of the team’s leaders, Carrie Kovarik, MD, associate professor of Dermatology, has been known to exert continuous efforts together with Penn dermatologists to bridge the gap between diagnosis, treatment and management of skin diseases all over the world. According to Kovarik, this study not only proves that teledermatology is effective in optimizing inpatient dermatology care, but also shows promise of convenience of follow-up care for both physicians and patients.

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