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Teledermatology in Belgium: a pilot study.

Teledermatology in Belgium: a pilot study.

Teledermatology in Belgium: a pilot study.

Acta Clin Belg. 2019 Jan 08;:1-7

Authors: Kips J, Lambert J, Ongenae K, De Sutter A, Verhaeghe E

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Teledermatology, the application of telemedicine in the field of dermatology, can be a valuable tool to improve the efficiency of care in general practice.
OBJECTIVES: In this pilot study, we implemented a teledermatology programme in Belgian context to assess the effect on referral rate and to evaluate the acceptability of teledermatology by clinicians and patients.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: A store-and-forward teledermatology service between 12 general practitioners (GPs) and 3 academic dermatologists was evaluated for a period of 3-6 months. Clinicians and patients were questioned about satisfaction, benefits and barriers.
RESULTS: In total, 54 teledermatologic consultations were performed. The referral rate was reduced. Thirty-one teleconsulations were performed instead of physical referral, of which nine patients were actually referred. In 23 cases, performed for a second opinion, two more patients were referred on the dermatologist's advice. All clinicians want to continue working with teledermatology. GPs highlighted the educational benefit, whereas dermatologists were interested in the triage effect and reduced referral rate. Patients indicated that teledermatology would encourage them to consult a GP sooner when experiencing dermatologic problems.
CONCLUSION: Teledermatology proved to be a feasible and acceptable tool for both clinicians and patients. It also shows to be a valuable for triage and reducing unnecessary referrals. Considering the emergent pressure on health care in the next decades, teledermatology following GP selection could be useful for the Belgian health care system and deserves further elaboration in the search for effective tools to strengthen first line health care and streamline referral to secondary care.

PMID: 30618351 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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