UConn Health offers a full spectrum of teledermatology services, a cost-effective and easy-to-access alternative to conventional dermatology care. Over a hundred teledermatology consultations are conducted each month, and many primary care providers have found teledermatology to be an invaluable tool for quick access to dermatological consultation.
What Is Teledermatology?
Teledermatology specialty care is generally delivered in two ways:
- Store-and-forward communications: This typically refers to the sending or forwarding of digital images and associated patient data to the dermatologist for viewing, evaluating, and providing consultation.
- Live-interactive video communications: Providers and patients interact via live videoconferencing.
In 2015, UConn Health initiated store-and-forward teledermatology service with the Community Health Network. Patients from 11 Community Health Network clinics across Connecticut and three clinics of Penobscot Community Health Center in northern Maine are covered by the service. The first six-month pilot showed very positive results with high satisfaction among patients and referring physicians. The patients who otherwise were unable to get dermatology service for months are evaluated and treated in days without needing to travel. Patients who needed diagnostic and/or treatment procedures were put into a fast track for clinic visits within two weeks.
We are planning to expand our live-interactive teledermatology via video conference service to more health networks and clinics. Our department is committed to providing high-quality care to our patients that is easy to access, and teledermatology moves us toward that goal.
Advantages of Teledermatology
Teledermatology provides many benefits not only to patients but also to primary care providers. With the current shortage of dermatologists and poor access to dermatologists in many rural or underserved populations, teledermatology significantly shortens the waiting period with more predictable patient access and decreased patients costs (such as for traveling or missing work). In addition, teledermatology, which often is coordinated through patients’ primary care providers, offers a greater opportunity for coordinated care among physicians as well as medical education for primary care physicians. It also helps triage more urgent, complicated medical problems into a fast track of diagnostic procedures, medical treatment, and surgery.