Worldwide rural dermatology health services research

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Dermatology in rural settings: Organizational, clinical, and socioeconomic perspectives




Rural dermatology faces many challenges across the United States and internationally that require an increased focus on health services research. The focus of this research should be in several areas that promise the potential for improving rural healthcare. First, among the vast number of dermatologic conditions, rural dermatologic problems are significantly different than those seen in urban populations and require special efforts to educate rural providers and the development of cost-effective treatments for rural citizens. Secondly, despite great efforts to provide dermatological care to an ever-growing number of underserved rural patients, a workforce shortage of rural dermatologists and other dermatology health care providers complicates efforts to find truly effective solutions. It is critical to study the implementation of rural physician programs that incentivize the relocation of existing dermatologists and increase the number of residency positions focused on training rural physicians. Rural manpower issues are even more acute in international rural areas. Finally, the use of teledermatology has allowed for the expansion of dermatological services to rural areas utilizing urban dermatology manpower. Whether “live action” or “store-and-forward” methods, patients can be managed by dermatologists with greater ease, time and cost savings related to patient travel, and decreased wait-times for clinic appointments. Teledermatology has also led to the implementation of educational and training programs for primary care providers, such as Project ECHO, to provide basic dermatology care allowing patients to avoid commuting to distant, urban centers. Further research is required to understand barriers to the provision of rural dermatology services and develop effective solutions to right-size the rural workforce, expand rural teledermatology, and provide the dermatologic care rural citizens deserve.


Health services research; Skin disease in rural areas; Burden of skin disease


Environmental Health | Environmental Public Health

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