(HealthDay News) — Teledermatology seems to improve access to dermatology care for Medicaid enrollees, according to a study published online May 4 in JAMA Dermatology.

Lori Uscher-Pines, Ph.D., from the RAND Corporation in Arlington, Va., and colleagues analyzed claims data from a large California Medicaid managed care plan which enrolled 382,801 patients in California’s Central Valley, including 108,480 newly enrolled patients who obtained coverage subsequent to the Affordable Care Act implementation. The authors compared rates of dermatology visits for patients affiliated with primary care practices that referred patients to teledermatology and those that did not.

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The researchers found that 2.2 percent of the patients had one or more visits with a dermatologist. Of the patients who visited a dermatologist, 48.5 percent received teledermatology care. Overall, 75.7 percent of patients newly enrolled in Medicaid who visited a dermatologist received care via teledermatology. The fraction of patients visiting a dermatologist increased 63.8 percent for primary care practices engaged in teledermatology (versus 20.5 percent in other practices; P < 0.01). Teledermatology served more patients younger versus older than 17 years, males, nonwhite patients, and individuals without comorbid conditions (all P < 0.001).

“The offering of teledermatology appeared to improve access to dermatology care among Medicaid enrollees and played an especially important role for the newly enrolled,” the authors write.

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