Store-and-Forward Teledermatology Essay Paper


CHOOSE a RURAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS TOPIC b. Telemedicine – find a telemedicine website, or discuss a telemed topic, such as distance cardiac monitoring, dermatology, mental health.

In researching the field of teledermatology, the website eMedicine provides a comprehensive 2008 overview of the topic in its article “Store-and-Forward teledermatology,” by Hon Pak and Gunter Berg. (URL: ( provides a definition of teledermatology, and an assessment of its efficacy and applicability to different situations and practices: “teledermatology is best defined as the practice of dermatology using available communication and information technology” (Pak & Berg 2008). To all users and practitioners of teledermatology, the authors offer the comfort that “given its visual nature, dermatology is well suited for telemedicine, and with advances in digital imaging technology and the availability of the Internet, the full potential of teledermatology (i.e., improved patient access, more cost-effective medicine, expanded continuing medical education and distance learning) seems more within reach” (Pak & Berg 2008).

Pak and Berg do caution that teledermatology cannot replace a traditional face-to-face dermatology evaluation in every instance. But still, for underserved communities where specialists in fields such as dermatology may be scarce, teledermatology may be the only option available for individuals living in such locations and improve the ability of individuals to solicit follow-up appointments and obtain regular check-ups. The article provides comforting statistics for individuals only able to access dermatology services through teledermatology, namely agreement between teledermatology evaluations and in-person evaluations have reported a rate of 41-95% for store-and-forward (S&F) teledermatology compared with a rate of 54-99% for real-time teledermatology. “S&F teledermatology results in acceptable levels of reliability and accuracy compared with clinic-based evaluations,” including for patients with serious skin conditions such as melanomas (Pak & Berg 2008)


Ideally, drawing new personnel to rural areas would entail the cooperation of the local, state, and federal government through such initiatives such as tuition forgiveness programs for medical school students who offer their vital services to rural communities at health clinics. Barring this, however, clinics can still offer doctors incentives to come to underserved areas. First of all, doctors can be offered greater autonomy in dispensing patient care than the burdensome oversight they might experience in a large hospital. Less bureaucracy, less red tape, and a less punishing schedule are all reasons that doctors might wish to relocate to a rural area to work in a clinic. In contrast to a vast urban hospital where doctors may see many patients whom they never see again, and have to work ‘the graveyard shift,’ especially if they are new residents, a rural hospital may offer the attractions of face-to-face patient care and a humane schedule.

Specifically targeting new graduates might be an excellent marketing technique. New doctors often have to work the worst hours at hospitals, and never get to see their families. For young doctors with small children, working in a rural area where they will have the ability to see their family, unprecedented opportunities for leadership at the beginning of their careers in shaping the direction of the clinic and the content of the care they dispense, the draw of the lifestyle and resume-building aspect of the position might overcome hesitations about relocating to a rural community. Of course, altruism can be another draw for doctors, but stressing how fulfilling the position may be personally, in terms of helping the doctor’s career and enhancing the doctor’s ability to strike a work and life balance should not be ignored.

Works Cited

Pak, Hon & Gunter Berg. (2008, May 30). Store-and-Forward Teledermatology. eMedicine.

Retrieved February 19, 2009 at

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