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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2011 April;146(2):95-101


language: English

The “phone and mail” system in a teledermatology service for chronic psychiatric patients

Vezzoni G. M. 1, Guazzelli M. 2, Barachini P. 1

1 Dermatologic Clinic, Department of Surgery, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy; 2 Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Neurobiology, Pharmacology e Biotechnologies, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy


AIM: We aimed to test a new teledermatologic method that permits to match a high level of diagnostic accuracy, comparable with or higher to that of the “Store and Forward” method, with the highest handiness, comparable to that achievable with a video call, without suffering from the limitations of the two methods.
METHODS: We used latest-generation cell phones with a HSDPA network broad-band internet access system for video calling and for sending via e-mail high-definition images, chosen by the specialist-at-a-distance during the video call, in times comparable to those achievable with fixed-wired access systems. We tested the diagnostic reliability, the compliance and the efficacy of the method.
RESULTS: We found a significant concordance both between direct and via video call description of the objective signs and between direct and on high definition image description. The Spearman Rank showed a higher correlation between direct observation and high definition image observation than between direct and via video call observation: this last finding matched the experimenters’ subjective experience. The compliance was positive and the efficacy comparable with the ambulatorial follow-up.
CONCLUSION: In conclusion, the “Phone and Mail” method can be seen as being capable of joining together the necessary diagnostic precision and effectiveness with a high degree of practicality and simplicity, thanks to the ease of use of the cell phone, within the reach of everybody, to the ubiquity of its utilization, to the allowed rapidity of diagnosis, practically in real time, and to the low cost of the system.

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