Telemedicine in dermatology: findings and experiences worldwide - a systematic literature review

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2018 Feb;32(2):215-224. doi: 10.1111/jdv.14341. Epub 2017 Jul 4.

Abstract

Telemedicine has become an important element of health care in many countries and profited from the technological progress of the last two decades. Due to the visual character of the dermatological specialty, teledermatology in particular participated in that development and is becoming a major tool in dermatological consultation. The objective of this article was to identify the use of teledermatology across the world based on published original articles. A systematic literature search of the MEDLINE and Embase databases for eligible publications (predefined inclusion and exclusion criteria) and a cross-validation search were conducted. Search results were reviewed systematically. The search resulted in 204 publications meeting the inclusion criteria for analysis. The highest number of published studies on teledermatology was performed in the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy and Austria. The majority of dermatological indications for telemedical consultations were not specified or included various kinds of skin diseases, followed by skin cancer and wounds. Research questions predominantly focused on concordance, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness to determine the value. Teledermatology proved to be a reliable consultation tool in the majority of studies. If specified, telemedicine was used in daily dermatological routine for patient management purposes, to consult patients in peripheral locations, or for medical support in nursing homes or home care settings. The application of teledermatology worldwide is highest in North American and European countries, while countries with poor geographical distribution of physicians seem to be under-represented in teledermatological use, as concluded from publication output. Regarding indications, comparison with classic consultation and area of application, most studies were of general nature. For precise determination of the value, systematic studies would be needed. However, teledermatology is already accepted as a valid tool.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bibliometrics*
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods*
  • Dermatology / methods*
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Skin Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases* / therapy
  • Telemedicine / statistics & numerical data*