Feb 06 2012

Virtual Doctor: Dermatologists Use Video Conferencing for Treatment

Telemedicine solutions improve treatments for patients with skin disorders, UC Davis Health System doctors find.

If your doctor could see you without you ever having to get in the car, driving to the office and sitting in the waiting room for 15 to 20 minutes, would you be more likely to consult with your physician more often? Would the video consultations prove to be as effective as the in-person visits?

A group of UC Davis Health System dermatologists conducted a study to find out just how effective virtual doctors could be, and according to the results, which have been published in the latest issue of the Archives of Dermatology, telemedicine for dermatology is a clear winner.

April Armstrong, the study’s author and a UC Davis assistant professor of dermatology, elaborated in a UC Davis press release on the findings and why she thought video conferencing with patients had proved to be so effective.

“Live interactive technology is nearly equivalent to physically being in the room with a patient,” said Armstrong. “It enables us to see the skin problems, and we can have real-time discussions with patients and their providers as if we were in the room together. Our study confirms that it is an effective tool to improve patient outcomes.”

Video conferencing has the potential to further the reach of medicine in multiple ways. It can be used to reach patients in rural areas who might have difficulties reaching specialists, who are more often located in urban and suburban areas. It can also be used in live surgery settings, as the Seattle Science Foundation has done with its innovative video conferencing room.

“We have live surgery here in our video conferencing room and also broadcast out to places like Duke University, where we have a doctor on the other end,” said Gary Merritt, SSF’s director of technology, in an article for BizTech magazine. “The quality of the video conferencing equipment lets him talk to the doctor in the operating room. They can talk back and forth while doing the surgery, and he never has to fly here and book a hotel.”

Learn more about Armstrong’s video conferencing dermatology study in the official press release from UC Davis.