To investigate the diagnostic accuracy of clinicians viewing a patient's history and static digital image set compared with clinicians who conducted officebased physical examinations of the same patients.
Setting and Patients:
One hundred sixteen adult patients presenting with dermatologic symptoms in a university-based practice who consented to have their skin conditions documented with a still digital camera according to a standardized protocol.
Main Outcome Measures:
Concordance between office-based dermatologists' diagnoses and 2 remote clinicians' diagnoses using still digital images (resolution, 92 dots per inch) and identical medical history data to render diagnoses.
When photographic quality was high and office-based clinician certainty was high, remote clinicians were in agreement more than 75% of the time. Office-based and remote clinicians were in agreement 61% to 64% of the time for all cases. No specific disease category appeared to be more or less amenable to diagnosis based on still digital imagery. The diagnostic certainty of the office-based clinician (reported from 0-10) had the most impact on agreement. When cases with office-based clinician certainty of no more than 7 were compared with cases with certainty of at least 9, agreement increased 54% for remote clinician 1 and 111% for remote clinician 2. As an isolated variable, photographic quality had a modest impact on agreement.
Still digital images can substitute for the dermatologic physical examination in up to 83% of cases. This study provides validation of the store-and-forward concept of telemedicine as applied to dermatology. These results serve as the foundation for field testing of the concept in primary care settings.Arch Dermatol. 1997;133:161-167
Kvedar JC, Edwards RA, Menn ER, et al. The Substitution of Digital Images for Dermatologic Physical Examination. Arch Dermatol. 1997;133(2):161–167. doi:10.1001/archderm.1997.03890380031005
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