Evaluation of the Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program and the Visiting Optometrists Scheme - Final report volume 2
Function and future directions
The program seems to be well accepted by dermatologists as there are a small number that are practicing in Australia, with most having a waiting list of around six months. The role that the dermatologist plays for ACRRM does not threaten other practices and is not the result of a tech savvy business, but rather the desire to meet a strong need that exists in the community.
The experience of ACRRM is that teledermatology could not replace outreach, but could further integrate and coordinate the services that are going out. A wider adoption of the Tele-Derm program could first and foremost reduce the number of cases that need direct outreach by a dermatologist. The educational component of the program could upskill many GPs who could diagnose more cases without specialist referral and could send additional cases to the online system for remote diagnosis. For other cases, information could be sent prior to visits so that dermatologists were better prepared to make efficient use of time during outreach visits. Potentially, a whole electronic coordination and diagnostic system could be developed to direct patients and doctors to the most efficient path for diagnosis and treatment. The current program run by ACRRM has the capability to expand further to cover more cases and doctors across Australia and provide additional services to aide in dermatology outreach in general.