Teledermatology: What Happens After COVID-19?

The pandemic forced practices to consider more virtual screening and care. A dermatologist shares perspective on what's been working as telemedicine practice.

Amid the systemic rush to assure patient care would not be compromised by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, US healthcare may have discovered some measures of telemedicine that are more efficient, and even more beneficial, that previous in-person strategies.

One field that found successes in virtual care was dermatology.

Research near the end of 2020 showed teledermatology was significantly more cost-effective than conventional care, and discussions with private practice leaders suggested there were particular streamlines to virtual screening and treatment for the field.

So what will a post-pandemic dermatology practice look like?

In an interview with HCPLive and sister publication Dermatology Times, Melissa Stenstrom, MD, assistant clinical professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford, discussed her colleague’s experiences in telemedicine monitoring and care, and how her team dictates in-person versus virtual visits.

“There have been occasions where I’ll do a telemedicine visit, and then ask them to come in to the office so I can see a lesion more clearly,” she said. “It definitely has been helpful in some cases: pre-cancerous lesions, actinic keratoses, treating those with field therapy has been something we’ve done a lot through teledermatology.”

Stenstrom also discussed the benefit of virtual care for monitoring chronic skin conditions including acne, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis—instances where treatment plan and disease state have been well-established previously with the patient.

“We’ve had the discussion in the office, and now they’re just on cruise control,” Stenstrom said. “For those patients, just checking in every 6-12 months has been a perfect addition to our practice, and probably one of the good things that has come out of the last year.”