Practice Models in Teledermatology in Spain: Longitudinal Study, 2009-2014

Actas Dermosifiliogr (Engl Ed). 2018 Sep;109(7):624-630. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2018 May 25.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Introduction: Teledermatology is the most advanced clinical specialty in telemedicine. The development of teledermatology in specific countries has not been studied in depth.

Methods: Our objective was to analyze teledermatology models in clinical practice in Spain. We paid special attention to organization, technical aspects, training, and the advantages/disadvantages as seen by teledermatologists. Two surveys were carried out (2009 and 2014).

Results: Teledermatology was used at 25 centers in 2009 and at 70 in 2014. The extended survey was completed by 21 centers in 2009 and 41 in 2014. Store-and-forward teledermatology was the main technique (83%) in 2014. Only 12% of centers used the real-time method, and 5% used a hybrid modality. Patients lived less than 25km away in 75% of cases (urban teledermatology). Most centers used mid-range bridge cameras; only 12% used mobile phones. Teledermoscopy and tertiary teledermatology were each used in 15% of centers. Teledermatology was restricted to skin cancer in 25% of cases, and 66% of centers used it to train primary care physicians. The main advantages, assessed on a scale of 1 to 10, were prioritization in cancer screening (8.3), rapid emergency care (7.8), training of and communication with primary care physicians (7.6), screening for trivial conditions (7.6), and reduction in the number of face-to-face visits (7.6). The main disadvantages were poor image quality (6.3), fear of error (5.7), difficulty in coordinating with primary care physicians (3.8), and time commitment (3.3). Between 2009 and 2014, the number of centers using teledermatology and the number of teledermatologists increased, as did use of the store-and-forward and urban models. The technology used also improved.

Conclusion: Teledermatology is an emerging technology that is becoming well established in Spain. More than 25% of dermatology centers in Spain have implemented a teledermatology model. Store-and-forward in an urban setting is the most widely used modality. Teledermatologists see this technology as an effective option with more advantages than disadvantages. General satisfaction is high, although there is room for significant improvement in some areas.

Keywords: Health service research; Investigación en servicios de salud; Teleconsulta; Teleconsultation; Teledermatology; Teledermatología; Telemedicina; Telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone
  • Computer Systems
  • Dermatology / education
  • Dermatology / methods*
  • Dermatology / organization & administration
  • Dermoscopy / methods
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Photography / instrumentation
  • Physicians, Primary Care / education
  • Procedures and Techniques Utilization
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Spain
  • Telemedicine / instrumentation
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Telemedicine / organization & administration
  • Urban Health