Teledermatology Initiative


Mid-term Evaluation Report

Step-by-Step Guide to ConsultDerm (PowerPoint PDF)

Article: Teledermatology in BC (Rural Health Services Research Network of BC)

The Shared Care Teledermatology initiative supports the use of digital technology and the Internet to improve access to dermatological consults for family physicians in urban, remote, and isolated communities in BC. A shortage of dermatologists also compounds the difficulty in accessing dermatological care in the Province.

Since 2011, more than 800 BC physicians and nurse practioners have been using a process known as "store and forward" in an effort to eliminate prolonged wait time for consultations with dermatologists. Over 2,000 consults have now taken place with an approximate turnaround of 48 hours.

How it Works

When in need of a consult, a family physician takes a digital photo of the affected area on a patient and submits this, along with relevant information from the patient’s medical record, to a secure web site ( for viewing and assessment by a dermatologist. The specialist then provides diagnosis and treatment recommendations to the family physician.

The web site and consult process build on the ConsultDerm system that is used by family physicians from Alberta and the Northwest Territories. The web site database is secure and confidential, the system interface is easy to use, and no specialized software is needed. All BC physicians can access the ConsultDerm system. Benefits of this technology include:

  • All dermatology consults are tracked and answered
  • No consult is lost or delayed
  • Past consults are readily retrievable
  • Expert advice is provided quickly and efficiently without a patient needing to travel
  • Time and costs savings resulting from reduction of unnecessary consults
  • Relationship-building between family doctors with their specialist colleagues

There are a number of Teledermatology prototype sites in BC, including Central Okanagan (through a partnership with the Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice), and Salt Spring Island, where 86% of patients surveyed were satisfied with the consult process, and 86% preferred this consult process to having to travel for in-person specialist consultation. (Barclay S. Teledermatology for BC: A pilot project sponsored by the Shared Care Committee of Doctors of BC and Ministry of Health. February 2012.)


Bethina Abrahams, Teledermatology Initiative