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November 18, 2020

Economics of Teledermatology—Does the Math Add Up?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
JAMA Dermatol. 2021;157(1):27-28. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2020.4067

Teledermatology has the potential to improve timely access to care.1 This technology-enabled delivery of dermatology care has evolved over the past 2 decades, with increasing evidence demonstrating its accuracy and reliability.2 For the management of certain inflammatory skin conditions, clinical outcomes are equivalent between patients who were treated online and those treated in person.3

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    1 Comment for this article
    Pricing Teledermatology During COVID-19
    Michael McAleer, PhD(Econometrics),Queen's | Asia University, Taiwan
    Microeconomics 101 is concerned with prices that lead to equilibrium supply and demand.

    The mathematics cannot add up if none of these terms is specified for the viability of teledermatology, however useful and convenient it might be for treating patients, especially during COVID-19 when social distancing, quarantining, and lockdowns have been imposed, and online treatment has been accelerated.

    Although revenues, costs, savings, fees, and reimbursement, each of which is indirectly associated with prices, are mentioned, no functional specifications are presented, so no equilibrium can be achieved.

    Every aspect of anticipated and unexpected difficulties in teledermatology, both in terms of additional
    costs against cost savings for the dermatologist and their patient, need to be priced according to market supply and demand conditions to determine if the sums add up.