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Implementation of an education and skills programme in a teledermatology project for rural veterans.

McFarland LV, Raugi GJ, Taylor LL, Reiber GE. Implementation of an education and skills programme in a teledermatology project for rural veterans. Journal of telemedicine and telecare. 2012 Mar 1; 18(2):66-71.

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In July 2009 we implemented a store-and-forward teledermatology project to provide dermatology care to veterans living in underserved rural areas of the Pacific Northwest region of the US. We also developed an educational programme for rural primary care providers and imaging technicians. Participants were tested and their competencies were assessed at baseline and during a two-year project. Participation in a comprehensive education programme improved the knowledge of dermatology diagnosis and treatment care plans. All of the providers were performing dermatology procedures (e.g. biopsies, excisions, cauteries) after two years and more patients were being seen at their rural clinics than when the teledermatology project began (85% vs 39%). After two years, 71% of the providers and 56% of the imaging technicians had completed surgical training sessions and all passed their competency assessments. The educational component of the teledermatology project created teams of primary care health-care providers and imaging technicians with improved dermatology educational levels and new dermatology skills.

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