Diagnostic Accuracy of Pediatric Teledermatology Using Parent-Submitted Photographs: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

Journal Title: 
Publication Date: 
Nov 15, 2017

Importance: Advances in smartphone photography (both quality and image transmission) may improve access to care via direct parent-to-clinician telemedicine. However, the accuracy of diagnoses that are reliant on parent-provided photographs has not been formally compared with diagnoses made in person.

Objective: To assess whether smartphone photographs of pediatric skin conditions taken by parents are of sufficient quality to permit accurate diagnosis.

Design, Setting, and Participants: A prospective study was conducted among 40 patient-parent dyads at a pediatric dermatology clinic at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia from March 1 to September 30, 2016, to assess concordance between diagnoses made by an independent pediatric dermatologist based on in-person examination and those based on parental photographs. Half of the patient-parent dyads were randomized for a secondary analysis to receive instructions on how best to take photographs with smartphones. Clinicians were blinded to whether parents had received photography instructions.

Exposures: Half of the patient-parent dyads received a simple, 3-step instruction sheet on how best to take photographs using a smartphone (intervention group); the other half did not (control group).

Main Outcomes and Measures: Concordance between photograph-based vs in-person diagnosis in the intervention vs control groups, as quantified using Cohen κ, a measure of interrater agreement that takes into account the possibility of agreement occurring by chance.

Results: Among the 40 patient-parent dyads (22 female children and 18 male children; mean [SD] age, 6.96 [5.23] years), overall concordance between photograph-based vs in-person diagnosis was 83% (95% CI, 71%-94%; κ = 0.81). Diagnostic concordance was 89% (95% CI, 75%-97%; κ = 0.88) in a subgroup of 37 participants with photographs considered of high enough quality to make a diagnosis. No statistically significant effect of photography instructions on concordance was detected (group that received instructions, 85%; group that did not receive instructions, 80%; P = .68). In cases of diagnostic disagreement, appropriate follow-up was suggested.

Conclusions and Relevance: Parent-operated smartphone photography can accurately be used as a method to provide pediatric dermatologic care.

Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT03246945.