Application and Evaluation of Teledermatology In An Underserved Area of Honduras
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Dermatologic disease is among the most common disease presentations in the developing world, which left untreated due to a lack of access to adequate medical care, can progress causing increased morbidity or even death. A potential but untested solution is teledermatology. Teledermatology offers great potential in improving the standard of dermatologic care by bridging the gap between the expert opinion of dermatologists and those without access to basic dermatologic care.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence and types of dermatologic conditions and the feasibility of a store-and-forward teledermatology system in an underserved area of Honduras, so as to potentially provide more timely diagnosis and treatment, implementation of preventative measures, and offer long term solutions.so as The justification and significance of this study was the potential of store-and-forward teledermatology to improve the standard of dermatologic care by improving access of populations in underserved areas to dermatology specialists through affordable technology.
The methodology of this study was primarily case study descriptive. This study was conducted at a public primary care clinic (JMA Clinic) and satellite sites in underserved areas of Francisco MorazÃ¡n, Honduras. During a four week period in Spring 2011, patients with dermatologic conditions were examined and photos taken of condition. The patient information was sent to 3 U.S. board certified dermatologists, who provided diagnosis and treatment within 24 hours, which allowed the clinic physician sufficient time to review recommendations before patient follow-up. Patients would receive follow-up within 48 hours of initial visit. Diagnostic agreement, image quality, and user satisfaction were evaluated. IRB forms were submitted and clearance given. The data was analyzed with SPSS using descriptive statistics.
The primary findings were the types of dermatologic conditions, interobserver agreement, image quality, and patient and physician satisfaction. The findings of this study substantiate the need for dermatologic care, as approximately 1 out of every 5 patients of the JMA Clinic presented with a dermatologic condition. The majority of these patients were children or women in their late 20s and early 30s; many of whom had their condition for more than a year and most had not received prior therapy. The types of dermatologic conditions observed were typical of that seen at a dermatology clinic in the U.S., yet inclusive of tropical and regional differences. Dermatitis, infectious and pigmentary conditions were the most common presentations. The interobserver diagnostic agreement achieved was 78%, and improved when considering differential diagnoses. Image quality received high ratings. Patients and physicians recorded a high level of overall satisfaction. Physicians indicated improved knowledge of teledermatology.
Because of the unique environment and circumstances, the results are limited to the setting in which the study occurs. This project was a pilot study limited to 4 weeks of data collection and will be limited in significance by its duration and small sample size with respect to the conclusions that can be drawn about the prevalence and types of dermatologic conditions.
This study illustrates that teledermatology is a viable means of providing dermatologic care to those in an underserved area of Honduras, where a lack of or limited access to general healthcare or specialty dermatologic care exists. The data offers insights to draw conclusions and recommendations on the potential for similar models to be implemented in underserved areas throughout Honduras and other similar regions.
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