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Societal cost-benefit analysis of teledermatology

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 07 October 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:896

Costs were understated

  1. Paul Jacklin (, research fellow,
  2. Jenny Roberts, reader in economics and public health
  1. Department of Public Health Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT
  2. Centre for Online Health, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Herston 4029, Australia

    EDITOR—The article by Wootton et al is a valuable addition to the limited literature on the cost effectiveness of telemedicine applications.1 But we have some reservations about their calculations of the net societal cost of a teledermatology consultation.

    Wootton et al are comparing outpatient dermatology, current clinical practice, with real time teledermatology in terms of clinical outcomes, cost benefit (which should theoretically include the monetary valuation of clinical outcomes), and patient satisfaction.

    Having calculated a total cost of £201.88 for a teledermatology consultation, Wootton et al subtracted two values from this total to arrive at the net societal cost. Firstly, they deducted the “savings” that would be made from reduced dermatology referrals, which they attribute to the learning benefits and increased confidence in managing patients obtained from …

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