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Is telederm more effective than in-person dermatology treatment?

Due to long appointment wait times and sparse numbers of dermatologists in small towns and cities, more patients are turning to a screen to get their skin problems diagnosed and treated. According to a new study presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s annual meeting, the burgeoning teledermatology industry might be boding well for both patients and physicians. Researchers found that patients are equally satisfied with teledermatology treatment as they are with a face-to-face appointment.

The researchers from the Kerk School of Medicine at the University of Southern California evaluated 300 patients with psoriasis. Half of the group saw an in-person specialist and 50 percent received treatment via telederm service. The average age of the participants was 49 and the majority were white. Over the course of 12 months, the researchers assessed both groups’ changes on the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index. Participants either uploaded a photo of the concerning area on the skin to specific telehealth service or visited their dermatologist onsite.

Study leader April Armstrong, MD, MPH, found that care was overall equally effective through both methods. According to Armstrong, "The online group actually thought they had lower disease severity over the course of the study compared to the in-person group.”

As baby boomers continue to age, the demand for comprehensive skin treatment grows. Creating more flexible access to dermatology services, whether it be more online or in-person clinics, can ensure that all populations are receiving adequate treatment. 

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