Rural and underserved Californians may wait up to four months to see a dermatologist. CHCF invests in Direct Dermatology, a telehealth company that offers convenient, affordable consultations.
The California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) is investing $500,000 in Direct Dermatology, a Palo Alto-based telemedicine company that uses low-cost technology to bring high-quality dermatology care to rural and underserved patients in California.
The new funding brings CHCF's total investment in Direct Dermatology to $740,000. The investment was made through the CHCF Health Innovation Fund, which supports businesses that have the potential to lower the total cost of health care and significantly improve access to care for the people of California.
"Direct Dermatology leverages the ubiquity of digital cameras and secure Internet access to allow medical dermatologists to review patient skin conditions remotely," said Raj Gupta, MD, PhD, and co-founder of Direct Dermatology. "Within 48 hours of receiving a picture from a provider or patient, we are able to diagnose and recommend treatment options."
Since it launched in July 2010, Direct Dermatology's board-certified dermatologists have provided more than 4,000 virtual consultations to referring primary care providers (PCPs). Recently, Direct Dermatology has opened its online service directly to consumers, providing patients affordable access to skin specialists without a doctor's referral.
"Skin problems account for approximately 25% of all visits to office-based PCPs," said Margaret Laws, director of CHCF's Innovations for the Underserved program, which manages the CHCF Health Innovation Fund. "For many of these visits, the patient and physician would benefit from a consultation with a dermatologist, but the current shortage and geographic maldistribution of dermatologists often prevents or delays these consultations."
"We are extremely pleased that Direct Dermatology has developed a solution to a true access problem in our state," said Laws. "Additionally, the Direct Dermatology model allows care to be delivered more efficiently and at a lower cost to the patient and health care system."
About Direct Dermatology
Direct Dermatology is a physician-owned telemedicine company that provides 24/7 online dermatology consultative services. For more information, visit www.directdermatology.com.
About the California Health Care Foundation
CHCF is dedicated to advancing meaningful, measurable improvements in the way the health care delivery system provides care to the people of California, particularly those with low incomes and those whose needs are not well served by the status quo. We work to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford.
CHCF informs policymakers and industry leaders, invests in ideas and innovations, and connects with changemakers to create a more responsive, patient-centered health care system.