The use of smartphones and IM has the potential to transform the delivery of health services by providing an easy to use, cost-effective tool for remote doctor-to-doctor and patient-to-doctor consultation and diagnosis. Whilst the introduction of new technologies has improved access to healthcare, it has also created new challenges. The aim of this paper was to review the literature on the use of Instant Messaging (IM) and IM applications (apps) in dermatology.
Method: PubMed, Scopus, and Science Direct were searched for multiple terms for 20 individual IM apps linked to the terms telehealth, telemedicine, ehealth, e-health, mhealth, or m-health. After title and abstract review, 31 papers met the inclusion criteria of IM use in dermatology.
Results: Three papers, all from the developing world reported the benefits of using IM in a clinical dermatology service. Other uses included behavioural change, disease management, diagnosis, triage, screening, diagnoses, home monitoring, education, and administrative. Little mention was made of medico-legal issues such as consent, confidentiality, privacy and data security and storage.
Conclusion: Currently there is little use of IM in clinical dermatology services, but its potential is great. There is need to address ethical and medico-legal concerns and develop guidelines for its use. IM is a simple, cheap and effective solution for the developing world.
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