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Dermatology Online Journal

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Limited impact of teledermoscopy on referrals to face-to-face dermatology


Background: Teledermoscopy improves teledermatology clinical outcomes, but the practical impact of this and other teleconsultation variables on patient management are unclear. We assessed the impact of these variables, including dermoscopy, on face-to-face (F2F) referrals to optimize effort by imagers and dermatologists. Methods: Using retrospective chart review, we retrieved demographic, consultation, and outcome variables from 377 interfacility teleconsultations sent to San Francisco Veterans Affairs Health Care System (SFVAHCS) between September 2018 to March 2019 from another VA facility and its satellite clinics. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and logistic regression models. Results: Of 377 consults, 20 were excluded due to patient F2F self-referral without teledermatologist recommendation. Analysis of consults showed that age, clinical image, and problem number but not dermoscopy were associated with F2F referral. Analysis of problems contained in consults showed that lesion location and diagnostic category were also associated with F2F referral. Skin cancer history and problems on the head/neck were independently associated with skin growths in multivariate regression. Conclusions: Teledermoscopy was associated with variables related to neoplasms but did not affect F2F referral rates. Rather than utilize teledermoscopy for all cases, our data suggests that referring sites prioritize teledermoscopy for consultations with variables associated with a likelihood of malignancy.

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