The Canadian province of Ontario covers some 415,000 square miles – the size of Texas and Montana combined – and contains about 13.5 million residents. In a region this vast, it might take six months to a year to get an office appointment with a dermatologist.
The Ontario Telemedicine Network is cutting that wait time to five days.
The OTN, one of the world's largest telemedicine networks, is using the SmartConsult Teledermatology platform from San Francisco-based Medweb to reduce wait times, speed up diagnoses and, in general, ease a whole lot of fears about whether that lesion is cancerous or this infection needs further treatment. OTN officials say the store-and-forward technology facilitated 8,400 consults involving 3,300 patients between March 2013 and March 2014, and they expect "exponential growth" in the coming year.
Officials say the technology also enables providers and specialists to collaborate more frequently and easily on diagnoses, reducing the risk of ineffective treatments or delays in treatment that could harm a patient.
“There are over 1,000 primary care physicians using OTN’s TeledermSF program with more doctors joining the program every day,” said Stewart Stein, OTN’s manager of Store Forward resources, in a recent press release. “Their ability to get derm consults within five days is helping accelerate patients’ access to diagnosis and treatment. You can imagine how comforting this is to patients who may be suffering from a dermatological issue or are anxious about the seriousness of their skin lesion.”
MedWeb's platform enables referring physicians to photograph patients with almost any camera, then send those images along with other data to a dermatologist for review.
Pete Killcommons, MD, the company's CEO, in the release called the technology a "platform to extend medical enterprises," and noted it can help to reduce travel expenses and stress on patients, while enabling providers to seek advice from a specialist before moving forward with treatment.