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Tele-expertise for diagnosis of skin lesions is cost-effective in a prison setting: A retrospective cohort study of 450 patients.

Tele-expertise for diagnosis of skin lesions is cost-effective in a prison setting: A retrospective cohort study of 450 patients.

Tele-expertise for diagnosis of skin lesions is cost-effective in a prison setting: A retrospective cohort study of 450 patients.

PLoS One. 2018;13(9):e0204545

Authors: Zarca K, Charrier N, Mahé E, Guibal F, Carton B, Moreau F, Durand-Zaleski I

Abstract
CONTEXT: The prevalence of skin diseases among prisoners is higher than in the general population. Diagnosing and treating these lesions require a dermatologic advice. A tele-expertise network in dermatology for prisoners including 8 health facilities in prison and 2 hospital dermatological departments was developed to improve access to dermatologists' expertise in correctional facilities. Our objective was to evaluate the effectiveness and costs of tele-expertise in dermatology for prisoners.
METHODS: We carried out a retrospective cohort study on data collected by the information system of the tele-expertise network. We used the MAST (Model for ASsessment of Telemedicine) model to perform a multidimensional assessment including the proportion of patients with a completed treatment plan for the skin lesions, the proportion of technical problems, the quality of the pictures, the investment and operating costs and the satisfaction of the professionals.
RESULTS: Mean patient age was 34.2 years with 90% men. 511 requests for 450 patients were initiated. The delay from the connection to the tele-expertise software to the validation of the request was inferior to 7 min for 50% of the requests and inferior to 30 min for 85% of the requests. Overall, with tele-expertise, 82% of the patients had a completed treatment plan for the skin lesions, with 2.9% of all patients requiring a later face-to-face appointment or hospitalization, to be compared to a proportion of 35% of patients with a completed treatment plan when tele-expertise was not available. The most frequent lesions were acnea (22%) and atopic dermatitis (18%). The mean cost for one completed treatment plan was €184 by tele-expertise and €315 without tele-expertise. Tele-expertise was well accepted among physicians with all responders (n = 9) willing to continue using it.
CONCLUSION: Tele-expertise is a dominant intervention in comparison to a face-to face consultation taking into account the cost of transportation and the proportion of canceled appointments and is acceptable for physicians.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT02309905.

PMID: 30248151 [PubMed - in process]

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