A pilot telemedicine program dramatically reduced the amount of time it took for primary care physicians to consult with dermatologists on skin ailments but did not increase utilization or cost, according to a new study from Independence Blue Cross. The study holds lessons for how such programs could be implemented and expanded as the COVID-19 pandemic propels a much wider adoption of telemedicine for primary care and some medical specialties, stakeholders say. “Dermatology is an ideal specialty for telemedicine due to the visual nature of the clinical assessment — people can easily take a photo of a rash, for example, and send it to their doctor,” says study co-author Aaron Smith-McLallen, director of health informatics and advanced analytics at Independence Blue Cross. “Also, dermatology often has long wait times for appointments. Using telemedicine, patients can get quality care very quickly and reduce wait times for patients with more acute needs that are not suitable for telemedicine intervention.”
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