GPs will take photos and submit them confidentially to specialists; results expected in 7 to 14 days.
After a few months of trials in targeted regions of Quebec, tele-dermatology will be available throughout the province as of July 4.
This will be good news for many of the approximately 80,000 people who are waiting to get a non-urgent appointment with a dermatologist in the province.
Thanks to the new “virtual care platform,” which will be available to all general practitioners as of July 4, patients will be able to have an answer from a specialist in less than two weeks, if they agree to go through telemedicine.
If a GP judges their patient has a problem worth seeing by a dermatologist, they will take photos and submit them confidentially to specialists through the platform.
Within seven to 14 days, the family doctor will receive an answer from the specialist and will be able to continue the collaboration with his patient, without the patient having to wait several months for an appointment in person with the dermatologist.
“Dermatology, you know, is a specialty that involves images. Our diagnosis is based on visual analysis of the disease,” said Dr. Dominique Hanna, president of the Association of Dermatologist Specialist Physicians of Quebec. “So it lends itself particularly well to dermatology.”
The first teledermatology pilot projects began in March with a limited number of physicians in three regions — Laval, the Laurentides and Lanaudière.
About sixty cases have been processed. On the strength of the positive response from doctors, the various partners say they are ready to expand access to the entire province.
Health Minister Christian Dubé trumpeted the development, which is part of his health plan to implement necessary changes in care.
“This is an element that is part of the health plan, which improves the patient experience and where we do business with information technologies,” Dubé said.
He also indicated that one of his objectives with his plan is to facilitate access to front-line resources, but that improving efficiency between general practitioners and specialists will benefit patients.