One of these days, we’ll be able to teleport into all of our important appointments and meetings, but until that day, a virtual visit to the doctor may be the next best thing. Despite the fact that you never have to set foot in the doctor’s office (not to mention, no commuting hassle, missed time at work, and heck, you don’t even have to put on pants if you don’t want to), research shows that teledermatology is just as effective as visiting your dermatologist in person.
What is virtual dermatology and why should you try it?
In short, teledermatology is like a virtual visit to the dermatologist. You submit a questionnaire online, including a description of your symptoms and photos, and you receive a diagnosis and treatment plan back from the dermatologist, including any necessary prescriptions. It’s as easy as that!
There are a ton of reasons these virtual dermatologist visits are so great, but most importantly, they’re just as effective as visiting the doctor in-person. Research has found that in-person and digital diagnoses are just as accurate, and the course of treatment and outcomes are also the same. (This is, in part, thanks to the constantly improving quality of cameras on smartphones — see, your new iPhone really is improving your life!)
Plus, because teledermatology can shorten the waiting period for appointments, it may also reduce complications down the line, since it helps doctors see their patients sooner. Not to mention, it cuts down on the time and cost of visiting the doctor, which just might entice you to go more regularly.
When should you use virtual dermatology?
While teledermatology can be a quick and easy way to get just about any issue in front of your MD, there are a couple purposes it’s particularly great for:
- Skin cancer screenings: Tons of research has been done on using teledermatology to screen a lesion for skin cancer, and the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that it’s an extremely effective way to do melanoma screenings. Unlike some other conditions, all a doctor needs in order to diagnose is just a quick pic and basic medical history.
- Consultations for aging or sun damaged skin: We all get older eventually, right? The good news is that because this is such a universal experience, it’s a breeze for a doctor to take a look at a few pictures and get an idea of what sorts of treatments might work for you. Plus, the doc can easily send prescriptions straight to your preferred pharmacy.
- Acne treatment: Just like aging, almost everyone experiences acne at some point in their lives. Thankfully, research shows that getting a digital consultation can often take the place of an in-person visit.
- Chronic conditions: Ongoing conditions, like psoriasis, can be a major bummer, but teledermatology can help lessen the burden a bit. By completing follow-up visits digitally, patients with chronic issues can continue their care without having to visit the doctor in-person as often.
“But what if I like seeing my doctor?”
Despite the fact that going to the doctor virtually may seem strange at first, researchers have found that patients are just as happy with their digital visits as when they see the doctor in-person. This may be due, in part, to the fact that teledermatology can decrease in-person visits by 45.5%, saving patients time and money, according to another study.
Not to mention, SkyMD can either set you up with a new dermatologist right in your area if you don’t have one already, or connect you to your existing dermatologist if they accept SkyMD visits. In either case, digital dermatology allows you to build and maintain a relationship with your doctor. This means they’ll always have your medical history, and you’ll have the option to visit in-person or digitally at your derm’s discretion on a case-by-case basis. It’s no teleportation, but all around, the combination of effective care and convenience may just mean that digital dermatology is the next best thing.