The aim of the project is to test telemedical care for the treatment of patients with skin diseases in rural areas.
Both primary care and specialist care are steadily disappearing in rural areas. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, for example, dermatologist practices are concentrated primarily in urban centers and mid-sized cities, while rural areas are increasingly threatened by insufficient care. The consequences for patients living in the state include long waiting times for an appointment and poor accessibility to dermatological specialist practices.
The project focuses on the implementation of a telemedical consultation between primary care physicians or physicians in emergency rooms and dermatologists (private practices or dermatology clinics) with the help of an app. Dermatology is particularly well suited for a telemedical consultation, as symptomatic skin changes can be easily communicated via images. The attending physician photographs the patient’s affected skin area and sends the image – along with information about the patient’s medical history and symptoms – to the dermatology specialist. The specialist then recommends the next course of action.
The evaluation of the dermatological teleconsultation is performed by analyzing routine data, patient and physician surveys, and focus group interviews as well as expert discussions.
The project is funded with ca. 1.8 million euros. If successful, the new form of care will be transferred to other structurally weak, rural regions. The app and the underlying telemedical concept could also be adapted for other medical disciplines in the future.