Referral of Patients to Dermatology and Teledermatology Consultations in Spain. DIADERM Study

Actas Dermosifiliogr (Engl Ed). 2019 Mar;110(2):146-152. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2018 Dec 21.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Background and objectives: Understanding the origin and referral routes of patients seen in teledermatology and in-person dermatology consultations in Spain is of interest from the perspective of health care management. The objective of this study was to describe the referral routes and the frequency and characteristics of teledermatology consultations in Spain.

Material and methods: We performed a descriptive cross-sectional study of data collected over 6 days from the DIADERM study sample, which included the outpatients diagnosed by 80 Spanish dermatologists, selected by means of stratified random sampling. We studied the source and destination of patients based on funding, type of consultation, and age of the patients. We reported the frequency of teledermatology consultations, their origin and destination, type of funding, age of the patients, and most common diagnoses, and compared them with the same characteristics for in-person consultations.

Results: In private consultations, most patients were direct clients, whereas the most frequent source in public consultations was primary care and the dermatologist. Sixty-six percent of patients were referred to dermatology and 27% were discharged. No differences in these percentages were found between public and private consultations. The ratio of follow-up to initial visits was 0.8 for public consultations and 0.2 for private consultations. Teledermatology accounts for 1% of consultations. Eighty percent of these come from primary care and 17% are direct visits. Thirty-three percent of these visits are referred to primary care - a greater proportion than in in-person consultations. Galicia, Andalusia, and Catalonia are the regions with the highest percentage of consultations.

Conclusions: The results suggest that dermatologists in Spain have a considerable ability to resolve cases. Teledermatology accounts for a small percentage of consultations and access to these consultations is direct in a large percentage of cases.

Keywords: Dermatology; Dermatología; Epidemiology; Epidemiología; Public health; Salud Pública; Teledermatology; Teledermatología; Telemedicina; Telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dermatology / methods*
  • Dermatology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Skin Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases* / therapy
  • Spain
  • Telemedicine / statistics & numerical data*