Direct Dermatology Doctor Weighs in On How Telemedicine Fits in the Era of Healthcare Reform

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Direct Dermatology doctor shares ideas on how telemedicine can help meet the goals of healthcare reform as the Affordable Care Act is expected to move forward after the 2012 presidential election and the shortage of doctors continue to rise.

Direct Dermatology

Telemedicine can be a key component in accomplishing the main goals of the Accountable Care Act or Healthcare Reform.

The results of the 2012 presidential election cemented a more certain future for the healthcare reform as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is now unlikely to be repealed with the re-election of President Obama. Direct Dermatology doctors, along with many in the healthcare and telemedicine industry, have long considered telemedicine to be an integral solution to the problem of how best to reform the U.S. healthcare system. Telemedicine can be a key component in accomplishing the main goals of the ACA to expand healthcare coverage, stabilize or drive down costs in healthcare, and improve access to preventive care

The individual mandate of the ACA will bring approximately 32 million additional people into the health insurance and medical services industry. This puts additional stress on the growing shortage of physicians in the U.S. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, the United States will be short some 45,000 primary care physicians by 2020. "We simply don’t have enough trained physicians to meet the patient demands brought by the Affordable Care Act. Telemedicine can play a key part in providing physician access for these patients”, says David Wong, CEO and co-founder of Direct Dermatology.

Another strong case for telemedicine is its potential to drive down healthcare cost. Online visits cost less than traditional in-person office visits. The quick and easy accessibility of doctors through telemedicine also reduces unnecessary and costly trips to hospital emergency rooms or urgent care clinics. Telemedicine also encourages regular doctor visits, which leads to effective preventive care and ultimately a reduction in the per person cost of care.

Given its visual nature, dermatology is a specialty that is well suited for telemedicine. Using images taken from a digital camera, Dermatologists are able to effectively diagnose and manage skin disease without a live patient visit, which can dramatically reduce costs, improve access and save lives.

“Approximately 25% of all doctor visits in the US are related to a skin complaint. The poor access to dermatologists continues to result in delayed detection of potentially life-threatening skin problems, such as melanoma,” notes Wong. “When wait times for an appointment to see a dermatologist is, on average, 38 days and sometimes double or triple that time in more rural areas, that can hardly be defined as easy accessible healthcare. The use of telemedicine in specialty areas like dermatology will significantly drive down healthcare costs because it is a solution to managing people’s health more efficiently and effectively.”

About Direct Dermatology
Direct Dermatology was founded in 2010 as a response to the acute shortage of dermatology care for patients with skin conditions. Direct Dermatology’s mission is to allow medical providers the ability to access immediate consultative services with U.S. board-certified dermatologists trained at leading U.S. Medical Centers for any of their patients' skin-related medical problems. Direct Dermatology also provides a means for general healthcare consumers to directly and easily access quality care through its online retail health services. Direct Dermatology is supported by the California Healthcare Foundation Innovation Fund. More information about Direct Dermatology can be found at http://www.directdermatology.com.

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Jemellee Ambrose
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