Background: There is little research comparing dermatologist and patient satisfaction with in-person, store-and-forward, and live interactive examinations.
Objective: To compare satisfaction with in-person examinations to store-and-forward and live interactive consultations having two types of video.
Methods: A controlled study was conducted where patients referred for dermatology consultations were examined in-person, by video, and by store-and-forward methods. Video changed between compressed and uncompressed on alternate clinics. Patients and dermatologists rated encounters after each examination. Dermatologists doing store-and-forward evaluations rated the quality of information provided. After experiencing all methods patients ranked their preferences. Dermatologists ranked their preferences at the end of the study.
Results: In-person examinations were preferred by both patients and dermatologists. Overall, satisfaction with teledermatology was still high. Patients were evenly divided in preferring store-and-forward workups or live interactive video. Dermatologists were also divided on store-and-forward and uncompressed video, but tended toward the latter. Compressed video was the least preferred method among dermatologists.
Limitations: Dermatology residents took store-and-forward photos and their quality was likely superior to those normally taken in practice.
Conclusions: Patients and dermatologists prefer in-person examinations and diverge on preferring store-and-forward and live interactive when video is not compressed. The amount of video compression that can be applied without noticeable image degradation is a question for future research.
Keywords: preferences; satisfaction; teledermatology; telemedicine.