Each Integrated Care System (ICS) has its own ways of working, resources, objectives, and challenges unique to its local community. Digital solutions should therefore be adaptable, so that they can accommodate the model of care most effective for the ICS. And so, paradoxically, the foundation of any successful teledermatology platform is flexibility.
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You can determine whether a teledermatology solution is flexible enough by asking these 4 questions.
1. Are my available resources being used effectively?
Say you find a teledermatology platform proven to be efficient, that involves nurses taking dermoscopic images and uploading them to the system. However, your ICS has a limited number of nurses who are already overwhelmed, but an abundance of medical photographers. Can the platform be tailored to your available resources? There is no use in acquiring a digital solution if it is not flexible to what you have available; otherwise, it will lead to an inefficient use of already limited time, money, and resources.
2. Is it addressing my specific issues?
Being flexible is not only about making effective use of resources; it is also about addressing the unique challenges that exist in a given place. Some regions, for example, may struggle to overcome high levels of social deprivation. If the foundation of the teledermatology platform is truly flexible, it should provide the needed support, such as by facilitating community diagnostic centres to address health inequalities.
3. Can the solution keep up?
Healthcare is a dynamic sector, so a robust teledermatology platform should be able to evolve alongside changing requirements. Cancer diagnostic metrics transitioned from a 2-Week-Wait to a 28-Day Faster Diagnostic Standard; can the platform ensure compliance and still enable efficiency?
That isn’t the only change happening; artificial intelligence (AI) is evolving at an astounding rate and could potentially become a diagnostic support tool. Is your solution capable of supporting this, or will implementing AI fragment your workflows? It’s important to consider whether the platform is flexible enough to keep up with the future.
4. Is it maintaining quality?
The solution should accommodate your workflows, but quality standards shouldn’t be sacrificed in the process. So while flexibility is key, adhering to national standards is also indispensable.
For instance, the platform must maintain stringent quality standards when it comes to dermoscopic images and data collection, as these features are critical for accurate assessments. This includes developing a solid framework to collect granular, coded data and guaranteeing reliable care metrics, which can assist ICSs with research and future service planning.
What Does Good Look Like?
An example of a successful teledermatology solution is Pathpoint eDerma, developed by practising clinicians at Open Medical and supported by the NHS Innovation Accelerator and Small Business Research Initiative. eDerma currently serves a population of 8.8 million people and accommodates 5 care models, each tailored to help with specific needs, while remaining steadfast in upholding the highest standards of quality.
So, when you are seeking a teledermatology platform, look for a flexible solution that can truly meet your needs, because that will ultimately determine the solution’s success.