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Comparative Effectiveness Study of Face-to-Face and Teledermatology Workflows for Diagnosing Skin Cancer

The effectiveness and value of teledermatology and face-to-face workflows for diagnosing lesions are not adequately understood. We compared the risks of biopsy and cancer diagnosis among 2 face-to-face workflows (direct referral and roving dermatologist) and 4 teledermatology workflows. Retrospective study of 59,279 primary care patients presenting with a lesion from January through June 2017. One teledermatology workflow achieved high-resolution images with use of a dermatoscope-fitted digital camera, a picture archiving and communication system, and image retrieval to a large computer monitor (in contrast to a smartphone screen). Compared with direct referral, this workflow was associated with a 9% greater probability of cancer detection (95% confidence interval [CI], 2%-16%), a 4% lower probability of biopsy (relative risk, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.93-0.99), and 39% fewer face-to-face visits (relative risk, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.57-0.65). Other workflows were less effective. Differing proficiencies across teledermatology workflows and selection of patients for direct referral could have caused bias. Implementation is critical to the effectiveness of teledermatology.

Authors: Marwaha SS; Fevrier H; Alexeeff S; Crowley E; Haiman M; Pham N; Tuerk MJ; Wukda D; Hartmann M; Herrinton LJ

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2019 Nov;81(5):1099-1106. Epub 2019-02-07.

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