A Teledermatology Initiative to Increase Access for Community Health Center Patients

Client: Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center
Topic Area: Healthcare delivery systems
Services: Participatory Evaluation, Training and Technical Assistance

A group of seven community health centers (CHCs) in Massachusetts implemented a telemedicine solution allowing clinical-quality 2D and 3D images to be taken in the primary care setting and uploaded for remote review by a dermatologist. Through this program, the health center collaborative sought to reduce unnecessary dermatology referrals, improve access to care for patients with serious skin conditions, and reduce overall dermatology spending. The collaborative was led by Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center and the other partners were Family Health Center of Worcester, Harbor Health Services, Charles River Community Health Center, Lynn Community Health Center, Manet Community Health Center, and South Boston Community Health Center.

ICH supported the teledermatology program development and implementation by facilitating discussions to define key program components and the associated goals. These facilitated discussions helped ensure that all members of the CHC collaborative agreed upon the overall implementation approach and the priority outcomes they hoped to achieve. Next, ICH provided TA to help the CHCs create a detailed workplan with implementation milestones and metrics to track progress. ICH also developed outcome metrics to track adoption of the teledermatology technology and impact on access to care, helped design patient surveys and provider discussion questions to gather feedback about experience and satisfaction with the teledermatology program, and facilitated discussions throughout the program implementation period to help the health centers use data to improve utilization of the technology. In addition, ICH provided TA to document the program implementation and outcomes in a published case study to help other healthcare institutions learn from and replicate this work. You can find the case study here.