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J Telemed Telecare. 2006;12(2):75-8.

Teledermatology reduces the number of patient referrals to a dermatologist.

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During a two-year study, 505 teledermatology consultations were carried out on 503 patients of 29 participating general practitioners (GPs) in the province of Friesland. One overview and two detail digital photographs of the skin problems were taken on a digital camera and attached to an email message containing standard clinical information. These email messages were sent to a dermatologist, who replied by email after evaluation. After a median follow-up time of 548 days, the GPs were interviewed about the dermatological referrals. The reduction in referrals was 51% (0.95 confidence interval = 47-58%) when the GP had the intention to refer. When the GPs had no intention to refer, there turned out to be a secondary traditional consultation in 17% of cases. The reduction of 51% of referrals after store-and-forward teledermatology consultation was similar to that seen in other studies of videoconferencing. Consultation using digital store-and-forward teledermatology by the GP can halve the number of referrals to a dermatologist for selected patients.

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