On June 20th, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Mr. Christian Dubé, announced the deployment of the teledermatology service across the province. As reported in February in our article Dermatology in the Digital Age, the benefits of this service are considerable: better access to specialized dermatology services thanks to a significant reduction in the time it takes to receive care, gains in the expertise of general practitioners on skin diseases as well as a reduction in the cost of services and travel-related inconvenience.
This service is made possible thanks to a new technological tool developed for the Department of Health and Social Services, the Virtual Care Platform (VCP) – Plateforme de soins virtuels (PSV). This is a user-friendly, easy-to-use web application that has been tested for the first time over the past few months in some targeted regions. The encouraging results of this first phase have made it possible to accelerate the planned deployment schedule in order to meet the demand from clinicians. Since July 4th, the platform has been available in all regions thanks to the commitment of dermatologists and general practitioners across Quebec.
Teledermatology uses a time-deferred teleconsultation functionality of the Virtual Care Platform (VCP). Specifically, the general practitioner uses the platform to send a request with photos and clinical information to a dermatologist who will perform the remote consultation within 14 days.
Over time, the VCP will also allow for real-time virtual care, a specific interface for patient use, and tools for managing complex care trajectories. Other medical specialties will be added to dermatology to enhance the virtual care offer throughout Quebec.
According to Dr. Dominique Hanna, President of the Association des médecins spécialistes dermatologues du Québec (AMSDQ), “This announcement responds to the existing need for dermatology consultations throughout Quebec, particularly in remote areas. Quebec patients will benefit from the success of an exemplary innovation based on collaboration between dermatologists and family physicians. Patients will have access to the diagnostic and therapeutic expertise of a dermatologist in less than 14 days, while still benefiting from the care of their family physician. This is a major step forward, benefiting patients, health care professionals and the network as a whole.”
The June 20th announcement was also an opportunity to further promote the work of all the participants in the Quebec telehealth network with the words of Minister Christian Dubé, taken from the official press release of his office: “Telehealth makes it possible to offer accessible, safe care that is adapted to needs. We want to gradually expand this offer, for the benefit of the network’s professionals and ultimately of the patients”.
Health professionals interested in this service can consult the Teledermatology page of the Réseau québécois de la télésanté Portal (telesantequebec.ca/en) for more information. The Minister’s press conference can be viewed on Facebook.