Background Teledermatology is a rapidly growing field with studies showing high diagnostic accuracy when compared with face-to-face diagnosis. Teledermoscopy involves the use of epiluminescence microscopy to increase diagnostic accuracy. The utility of teledermoscopy as a triage tool has not been established.
Objectives To assess teledermoscopy as a triage tool for a hospital skin lesion clinic.
Methods Patients referred to a dermatology skin lesion clinic were recruited. Digital and dermoscopic photographs were taken of skin lesions of concern and the patients were then seen independently face-to-face by two out of three dermatologists. The digital images were evaluated 4 weeks later, as a teledermoscopy consultation, by two of these dermatologists. The diagnosis and management from both types of consultation were compared.
Results Two hundred patients with a total of 491 lesions were seen. There was excellent agreement between teledermoscopy and face-to-face diagnosis with only 12·3% of lesions having disparate diagnoses of clinical significance. Twelve of 491 (2·4%) lesions appeared to have been under-reported by teledermoscopy when compared with face-to-face diagnosis. However, when histopathology became available, only one malignant lesion had been missed (a basal cell carcinoma diagnosed as solar keratosis) by teledermoscopy. Teledermoscopy approximated 100% sensitivity and 90% specificity for detecting melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers. Importantly, 74% of all lesions were determined to be manageable by the general practitioner without needing to be seen face-to-face by a dermatologist.
Conclusions This use of teledermoscopy as a triage tool offers the potential to shorten waiting lists and thus improve healthcare access and delivery.