From delivering care to the developing world, to remote echocardiography, to hearing assessment, telemedicine has opened doors to new and potentially improved forms of diagnosis and treatment. Dermatology is one area in particular that stands to benefit greatly from this technology.

Teledermatology consultations can take place in one of two ways: patients send image files and forward them to dermatologists for review, or live, interactive video sessions take place to enable real-time conversation between patients and specialists. A new study by UC Davis Health System dermatologists has supported the benefits of teledermatology consultations, particularly when it comes to follow-up

The research team conducted a retrospective analysis of medical records for 1,500 patients who were evaluated using live interactive teledermatology between 2003 and 2005. Compared with diagnoses and treatment plans from the referring physician alone, the 1,500 teledermatology consultations resulted in diagnostic changes for nearly 70 percent of patients. The consultations also resulted in nearly every single patient (97.7%) receiving recommendations via teledermatology to change the way patients managed their skin diseases.

At least one conclusion can be made from this study: It seems as if a teledermatology consultation is just as effective as an in-person visit when it comes to getting patients to take action to treat their skin diseases. This is significant not only for medically underserved communities, but also the average consumer, who may be more likely to seek treatment since it is so convenient.