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Increasing access to dermatology consultations

Project status

Pilot/study with results


Jules Lipoff, MD
Carrie Kovarick, MD
Junko Takeshita, MD, PhD


Innovation Accelerator Program
Independence Blue Cross

External partners

Independence Blue Cross


Many hospitals have limited access to inpatient dermatology consultation services. Teledermatology may improve access to inpatient dermatology care by reducing barriers of distance and time.


We partnered with Penn Medicine's Department of Dermatology to test the viability of a teledermatology service to improve access to dermatology care. Utilizing the American Academy of Dermatology's AccessDerm program, we conducted a two-phase pilot study at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and Pennsylvania Hospital. 


The results of the pilot were published in The Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare in 2015. The use of teledermatology in the inpatient setting proved feasible – with telemedicine alone sufficiently answering 40 percent of inpatient consultations. The intervention also increased efficiency. Providers reported that it took them less time to complete consultations, and the response time for a consultation dropped by about 132 minutes.

Based on these findings, the team partnered with Independence Blue Cross to pilot outpatient teledermatology with a broader audience. In the more extensive study, primary care providers used a secure digital photography platform to share areas of concern with dermatologists rather than referring patients to the next available in-person appointment. During the intervention period, the response time for a consultation dropped from almost 84 days to under five hours without any undue increases in utilization or cost that might be prohibitive to making the practice widespread.