Background: Rural patients who develop dermatologic disorders often do not seek specialty care because of multiple logistical and economic factors.
Objective: To assess the effect of teledermatology consultations on the cost of care for a given episode of illness.
Methods: Telemedicine records were reviewed for 119 visits by 87 patients referred for teledermatology consultation over a 17-month period.
Results: Seven patients (8%) required follow-up in the dermatologist office for extended care, while 20 patients (23%) (52 visits) underwent follow-up teledermatology evaluation. The average duration of the dermatologic condition for each patient prior to the telemedical consultation was 17 months. The average of care for the diagnosed dermatologic condition, for all patients during an average period of 8 months prior to teledermatology was $294, compared with $141 for the 6 months after diagnosis by teledermatology.
Conclusions: Telemedicine can be effective for dermatology consultation in new patients referred from rural communities. Our data indicate teledermatology can decrease the cost of care for the diagnosed condition.