Geriatric teledermatology: store-and-forward vs. face-to-face examination

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2011 Nov;25(11):1334-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2011.03986.x. Epub 2011 Feb 23.


Background: Telemedicine could be useful in countries like Italy to meet the needs of elderly patients and in particular in those in precarious general conditions, for whom travelling even short distances can pose considerable practical and economical difficulties.

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of store-and-forward teledermatology vs face-to-face consultations in elderly patients.

Methods: A total of 130 geriatric patients with skin diseases requiring dermatological examination were enrolled. The patients examined, consisting of 60 men (46.15%) and 70 women (53.85%), were aged between 66 and 97 years (mean age 80.58 years). Three dermatologists of the department, with equal experience took turns in face-to-face examination and teledermatology (store-and-forward). To compare face-to-face dermatological examinations with the asynchronous store-and-forward approach of teledermatology, we considered diagnostic agreement (ICD-9 code), therapeutic agreement and concordance of diagnostic confidence.

Results: One hundred and fourteen of 130 patients were diagnosed with the same ICD-9 code, making a total observed agreement of 87.7% with a Cohen's κ estimated of 0.863. Agreement between therapies was 69.6% (Cohen's κ = 0.640). As it concerns diagnostic confidence, dermatologists appeared generally slightly less certain of their diagnosis by telemedicine.

Conclusions: Store-and-forward teledermatology can improve diagnostic and therapeutic care for skin disease in elderly who lack easy and/or direct access to dermatologists.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dermatology*
  • Female
  • Geriatrics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Examination*
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases / therapy
  • Telemedicine*