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Acne Patients Happy With Online Follow-Up Care

Outcomes similar for in-office visit or 'e-visit' using images sent via Internet, study finds

TUESDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with acne who had online follow-up visits with their dermatologist had the same outcomes as patients who had in-office visits, a new study finds.

The study included 121 patients who were randomly assigned to have four electronic follow-up visits or four in-office visits. Every six weeks, the patients in the "e-visit" group were prompted to send digital images of their skin and an update via a secure Web site to their dermatologist, who responded with advice and electronic prescriptions.

The decrease in the number of inflammatory acne lesions was 6.67 percent for the e-visit patients and 9.39 percent for the in-office patients. Patients and dermatologists in both groups reported similar levels of satisfaction with their care. The amount of time dermatologists spent per patient was 4 minutes, 8 seconds for the e-visit group and 4 minutes, 42 seconds for the in-office group, according to the report.

"In this trial, delivering follow-up care to subjects with mild to moderate acne via office and online visits produced equivalent clinical outcomes by several different metrics," Alice J. Watson of the Center for Connected Health, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues reported in the April issue of the journal Archives of Dermatology.

"These findings suggest that dermatologists obtain sufficient information from digital images and survey responses to make appropriate management decisions in the treatment of acne. In addition, this model of care delivery was popular with both physicians and patients, likely owing to the convenience and/or time savings associated with e-visits," the study authors concluded.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about acne.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, April 19, 2010

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