Evaluation of electronic consults for outpatient pediatric patients with dermatologic complaints

Pediatr Dermatol. 2021 Sep;38(5):1210-1218. doi: 10.1111/pde.14719. Epub 2021 Aug 31.


Background: Although dermatologic complaints are frequently encountered by pediatricians, access to pediatric dermatologists remains limited. Teledermatology has been proposed to expand access to dermatologic care for children. We report our experience with a physician-to-physician store-and-forward teledermatology service (eConsults), focusing on patient and consult characteristics and their relationship with teledermatologist confidence and follow-up recommendations as well as clinical outcomes.

Methods: We reviewed electronic health records of all pediatric patients referred through eConsults at the Massachusetts General Hospital from 1/13/2020 to 7/17/2020. We assessed pediatrician and parental receptiveness with a confidential survey.

Results: A total of 302 referrals (median patient age 4.6 years (IQR 0.6-12); 54% female) and 310 cases were completed in 1.8 days on average (SD = 1.2). Teledermatologists rated their confidence as definite and moderate in 51.3% and 39.4% cases, respectively. Teledermatologists felt comfortable managing rashes remotely, but patients with alopecia, pigmented and vascular lesions, and warts frequently required formal dermatology evaluation. Among patients seen subsequently, full concordance was seen for 70.1% of diagnoses and 74.4% of management recommendations. All responding pediatricians were satisfied with the service, and 97.5% felt that the parents were receptive to it.

Conclusions: Our study supports the growing evidence that store-and-forward teledermatology can quickly and effectively provide the access to pediatric dermatologic care and is well received by pediatricians and parents. To maximize cost-effectiveness of store-and-forward teledermatology, dermatologists should work with referring providers to improve the quality of submitted photographs and patient history as well as advise in-person referrals for cases likely to require further follow-up.

Keywords: electronic consults; pediatric dermatology; store and forward; teledermatology; telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermatology*
  • Electronics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outpatients
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Skin Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Skin Diseases* / therapy
  • Telemedicine*