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Parents’ Photos of Their Child’s Condition Could Substitute In-Person Visits

Parents are sharp medical photographers says a new study published in JAMA Dermatology. Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found that 83 percent of photo-based diagnoses that were submitted by the patient’s parents are in agreement with the in-person diagnosis.

Between March and September 2016, the researchers divided up a group of 40 parent sets. They gave out 3-step instructions on how to take photos to half of the parents, and the other half (the control group) received no instructions. Most of the parents used an iPhone to take photos of their child’s condition, and some used an Android phone.

The researchers compared the photo diagnoses with the in-person diagnoses. Of the 40 parents, 37 submitted photos of high enough quality that could be adequately evaluated, and 87 percent of those images were in concordance with the in-person diagnoses. The group with instructions had an 85 percent concordance rate with the in-person diagnosis and the group with no instructions had an 80 percent rate, although the researchers mention that there’s nothing statistically significant between these two groups.

"Our study shows that, for the majority of cases, parents can take photographs of sufficient quality to allow for accurate teledermatology diagnoses in pediatric skin conditions,” said senior study author Patrick McMahon, MD, a pediatric dermatologist at CHOP. “This is important because pediatric dermatologists are in short supply, with fewer than 300 board-certified physicians serving the nation's 75 million children."

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