The average American is extremely likely to experience some type of skin condition or problem over the course of their lives. Take skin cancer, for example: an estimated one in five people in the United States will develop this disorder at some point in their lifetime. Of this number, some will go on to develop melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, which is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells.
As long as the condition is detected early, it is highly curable. However, advanced melanoma can spread to the lymph nodes and internal organs, a change that can be fatal. For this reason, dermatology and skin cancer specialists recommend that every person take care to protect themselves from the sun, regularly check their skin for changes, and see a dermatologist periodically for professional skin examinations. Unfortunately, finding the time to visit a dermatologist clinic for these exams can be a challenge. Because of this, a number of practices are now making it possible for busy patients to connect with a dermatologist online.
Increasingly, dermatologists are recommending websites like DermatologistsOnCall.com to patients who are in need of a quick diagnosis or are unable to make time for a traditional appointment. Founded by Dr. Mark Seraly, the site is reportedly similar to a modern dermatologist appointment, especially now that most practices upload their information online. Unlike a traditional appointment, however, the patient speaks with the dermatologist online, either though a video conference or instant messaging service, with the diagnosis, treatment and counseling information being delivered within 11 hours.
However, there are drawbacks to the service: DermatologistsOnCall.com, for example, costs $59 for every virtual visit, and is only covered by one insurance provider. It is also meant for singular issues, not full body exams, a necessary part of detecting skin cancer and other problems. And yet many patients say that speaking with a dermatologist online makes obtaining care easier, while also allowing them to be more descriptive. For this reason, this type of service is growing popular with tech-savvy users under the age of 40, who are also likely to be female.
Currently, some dermatologists are worried about the effect online dermatologist visits could have on a patient’s health and the way dermatology is practiced: after all, many conditions cannot be diagnosed without touching and closely examining lesions and other symptoms. However, the practitioners themselves state that seeing a dermatologist online is not meant to replace traditional appointments, only provide a quick solution. In the end, this new service is useful because it expands options: for simple questions and quick fixes, speak to a dermatologist online, but for more serious concerns and treatments, schedule an appointment with a local dermatologist.