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Evaluation of a screening system for patients with pigmented lesions using store-and-forward teleconsultation



Evaluation of a screening system for patients with pigmented lesions using store-and-forward teleconsultation



Actas Dermo-Sifiliograficas 96(4): 222-230



Pigmented lesion clinics (PLC's) were developed as a quick referral system for patients with pigmented lesions. However, the most appropriate method of selecting patients who need to be seen in these units is not clearly defined. Teledermatology is a tool whose usefulness as a patient selection system for PLC's needs to be evaluated. To evaluate teleconsultation as a screening system for patients with pigmented lesions in terms of efficacy, accuracy and satisfaction. Teleconsultations received at a PLC over a period of 12 weeks were evaluated. Teleconsultation patients reported changes in a pigmented lesion, a lesion that had recently appeared, multiple lesions, symptomatic lesions or concern about a nevus. We calculated the time intervals in sending the teleconsultation report and in patients being seen at the "physical" PLC consultation, the intraobserver, interobserver and pathologist kappa coefficients, as well as the degree of satisfaction of patients and Primary Care (PC) physicians. 219 teleconsultations were evaluated, 49.3 % of which were referred to the "physical" consultation. The most frequent reason for the teleconsultation was concern about a nevus (37.0 %). The teleconsultations received responses in an average time of 43.9 hours, and patients were seen at the "physical" consultation within 2 weeks. The intraobserver agreement was kappa = 0.93 (95 % CI 0.87-0.98); interobserver agreement, kappa = 0.91 (95 % CI 0.87-0.96); and the agreement between the teledermatologist and the pathologist, kappa = 0.79 (95 % CI 0.70-0.89). 86 % of the patients and 91 % of the Primary Care physicians said that they were "very satisfied" with the implementation of this new system. Teleconsultation is an accurate screening system for patients with pigmented lesions. With this methodology, waiting times for patients with malignant lesions or those suspected of malignancy can be shortened at the same time as the PLC's excess workload is decreased. However, more experience is needed to establish the true usefulness of this filtering system in the early diagnosis of melanoma.

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Accession: 048993976

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PMID: 16476372


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