How to see a dermatologist without visiting their office

April 1, 2016
Volume 4    |   Issue 13

You probably already know that staring at a screen all day every day can contribute to wrinkles, increase our UV exposure, and disrupt your sleep. I’ve written about all of these issues – and how to avoid them – before. But did you know that technology can also benefit your skin, as long as you use it the right way?

One of the most interesting uses of technology I’ve seen emerge in the past several years is telemedicine. These are services through which you can connect with a doctor or other healthcare provider remotely. These services have a number of advantages for our fast-paced lives, saving us hours of sitting in waiting rooms and enabling doctors to quickly assess whether an actual office visit is needed.

Because dermatology relies so heavily on visual inspection of the skin, it’s a natural fit for telemedicine. Dermatologists can often easily review and assess skin issues via photos or video chat and make recommendations. Many of these services are wonderful and could even be life-saving if a doctor identifies a suspicious spot early. It allows them to encourage a patient to seek immediate treatment much faster. And it works extremely well for people who can’t get out easily.

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There are, however, some pitfalls to watch out for in these services. It’s essential that you seek care that’s both high-quality and able to be integrated with any other medical services you receive. Because these services are not regulated, you must first ensure that you’re receiving care from a board-certified dermatologist who is licensed in your state. Ask to see the doctor’s credentials. If a service can’t or won’t provide them, that’s a sufficient red flag. Seek care elsewhere.

You also need to ensure that they will take your medical history into consideration. If at all possible, try to choose a telemedicine service provided by your health system. This will facilitate easy sharing of records both before and after your visit. If you do end up needing an in-office consultation, you don’t want to have to receive duplicate care because no one has access to what the tele-dermatologist had to say. If you’re using a service provided outside of your health system, ask for a record of your consultation to take to your in-office appointment.

If you don’t have a primary dermatologist already arranged, ask the service if it can connect you with a provider in your area. If the service recommends that you utilize the emergency room for this purpose, that’s another red flag. You want to choose a service that has a strong network of licensed dermatologists who can provide any follow-up care you might need.

Teledermatology does have some advantages. But if you can’t find a service that meets these criteria or you suspect that your condition is serious or will require in-office treatment anyway, make an appointment to see a doctor in person.

Better Health and Living for Women,


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