Everything You Need To Know About Online Dermatologists

Refinery29 posted "Everything You Need To Know About Online Dermatologists" featuring Dr. Purvisha Patel and Visha Skincare

You can do just about anything online these days: shop for groceries, get a college education, find a significant other, even see a doctor. Technology is a huge boon to a busy schedule — and, for that matter, an extended period of self-quarantine. With health-care practitioners everywhere trying to keep non-essential visits to an absolute minimum, many patients are turning to virtual doctor's appointments in their stead.

Not all forms of medicine are fit for a FaceTime call (you wouldn't want to have a virtual appointment with a cardiologist, for example), but dermatology is one field where it makes perfect sense. Some practices offer video consultations to the same patients they'd see in-house, using applications like Google Hangouts and Zoom to address your concerns as they would in an office.

Companies like Apostrophe and Curology have also innovated in the space, modernizing traditional telemedicine into a more affordable way to treat conditions like acne and rosacea without insurance premiums or copays. You can simply start an account any time via their websites and answer a series of questions and upload photos of your face, after which medical professionals will recommend an appropriate treatment plan, including topical medications typically only available with a prescription.

What are the downsides of seeing an online dermatologist?

Well, there is a chance that you might have to go into your dermatologist's office after your virtual visit — which means two separate appointments, and possibly two co-pays. This only happens if a skin concern cannot be determined via camera, or if it seems more serious and will need to be checked out face-to-face.
"The skin is the largest organ of the body, with visual textures and a lot of 3D surface area. A skin examination can require touching and feeling the skin or skin lesion," says Purvisha Patel, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare. "Not all telemedicine visits may result in a diagnosis, and the patient may need to come in for a biopsy or future testing." In the case of a website like Apostrophe, if a patient cannot be treated, they will be refunded their money. "If they believe you’d benefit from seeing an in-person dermatologist, they will let you know," says the brand rep.

How can I prepare for an online dermatologist appointment?

It's critical to do your research and find the right professionals for your appointment no matter what service you're using, especially since there are many "skin-care experts" who offer their services online at a premium without board certification or educational background. "There are no qualifications to setting up online visits, so make sure you vet out that you are seeing a board-certified dermatologist," says Dr. Patel. That shouldn't be hard to find, as Dr. Markowitz adds, "There are going to be plenty of board-certified dermatologists available for this type of visit."

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