Telemedicine is the use of telecommunications technology to support health care at a distance. Technological advances have progressively increased the ability of clinicians to care for diverse patient populations in need of skin expertise. Dermatology relies on visual cues that are easily captured by imaging technologies, making it ideally suited for this care model. Moreover, there is a shortage of medical dermatologists in the United States, where skin disorders account for 1 in 8 primary care visits and specialists tend to congregate in urban areas. Even in regions where dermatologic expertise is readily accessible, teledermatology may serve as an alternative that streamlines health care delivery by triaging chief complaints and reducing unnecessary in-person visits. In addition, many patients in the developing world have no access to dermatologic expertise, rendering it possible for teledermatologists to make a significant contribution to patient health outcomes. Teledermatology also affords educational benefits to primary care providers and dermatologists, and enables patients to play a more active role in the health care process by promoting direct communication with dermatologists.
Keywords: Internet; dermatology workforce; smartphone; store-and-forward; teledermatology; telemedicine.
Copyright © 2014 American Academy of Dermatology, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.