Early diagnosis is of great importance for the survival of patients with malignant melanoma. Until 2012, Nus offered referral-free appointments with dermatologists to assess moles, but it was concluded that the service only reached a limited number of people, primarily from nearby municipalities. To offer a more equitable service across the county, the clinic therefore launched a pilot study in 2012 to evaluate the opportunity to photograph suspected melanoma in primary care and have the images assessed by a specialist at Nus.
The mole is photographed through a mobile phone attached to a dermatoscope, which is a magnifying glass with light reflecting the skin in detail. Images are stored in the patient's medical record and a referral with reference to the images is sent to the Dermatology Clinic. Based on the images, the dermatologist judges whether or not the condition needs surgery or if it is best left unattended. The number of unnecessary surgeries has thus decreased and the lead times to correct diagnosis and treatment have been shortened considerably. Fewer physical visits has also led to less travel for the patients with environmental as well as economical gains. Another major benefit is an equitable treatment for the county's residents. The method was implemented in all healthcare centres in northern Sweden in 2014.
This text has been originally released in the following report: Telemedicine Survey in the County Council of Västerbotten -An analysis of the present situation, conditions and areas of improvement.