Patient and practitioner satisfaction with tele-dermatology including Australia's indigenous population

Introduction: With 31.3% of Australia’s population living outside metropolitan areas many citizens have limited access to specialist health care services, such as dermatology. This is considered to be one of the primary causative factors for “gaps” in our nation’s health – one gap being between the health of city and country dwellers and another gap being that between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. This disparity, combined with evolving technologies, has evoked increasing interest and funding towards health services which might be able to address these inequities, an example being tele-medicine and, more specifically, tele-dermatology. The growing potential for tele-medicine to address Australia’s health needs is supported by Australia’s Federal Government which, in 2010, promised to allocate $392 million AUD of funding towards the development of tele-medicine (Indraratna, 2011).
Methods: As such, we conducted a survey based study to investigate the satisfaction of Indigenous and rural patients with the use of tele-dermatology as compared to traditional face-to-face dermatological consultations with patients recruited from the Armajun Aboriginal Health Service in Inverell, NSW. We asked patients to evaluate their comfort, the rapport with the dermatologist, their privacy & confidentiality, the wait time for the appointment and the convenience of the consultation before asking them to rate their overall opinion of the consultation as “very poor,” “poor,” “neutral,” “good” or “very good.”
Results: Our research showed a strong patient preference for many aspects of face-to-face consultations compared to tele-dermatology consultations.

Miss Emily Kozera

The University of New South Wales