Background/Objectives: A virtual lesion clinic (VLC) using store-and-forward teledermoscopy was introduced to reduce waiting times and improve access for skin lesion assessment by dermatologists.
We aimed to review the efficiency and patient acceptance of a new community-based teledermoscopy service by comparing it to hospital-based face-to-face (FTF) skin lesion clinics.
Methods: A prospective study compared patient flow through a community-based VLC and a tertiary hospital FTF dermatology clinic. Surveys were sent to patients and their referring doctors after attendance. Waiting times, diagnosis, outcomes, financial costs, patient acceptability and convenience were compared.
Results: A total of 300 patients were assessed; 200 were seen in the VLC and 100 in the conventional FTF clinic. Of the 200 patients seen in the VLC, 88% did not require a subsequent FTF clinic assessment to establish the diagnosis. Mean waiting times for first assessment were reduced by two thirds (from 114 days to 39 days) in those seen by the VLC compared to FTF. Financial analysis demonstrated cost savings of 14%. Surveyed patients were highly satisfied and confident in the VLC service.
Conclusions: A community-based teledermoscopy service may allow improved management of outpatient referrals while providing a better, quicker and more convenient service. It may also provide cost savings, as teledermoscopy assessment can be cheaper than traditional assessment.