Economic analysis of telemedicine and the teledermatology paradigm.
Abstract Economic considerations are an important component in the planning and execution of a telemedicine program. The goal of this review is to familiarize readers with economic concepts relevant to the analysis of telemedicine programs. Economic perspectives, cost attribution, types of economic analysis, and commonly encountered problems will be discussed as they pertain to telemedicine. Societal perspectives, healthcare system perspectives, patient perspectives, fixed versus variable costs, labor costs, and distinctions between cost-effectiveness analyses and other types of economic analysis also will be examined. Examples from the teledermatology literature will be used as a paradigm to illustrate how these concepts are integrated into existing analyses of teledermatology systems. Teledermatology shows promise as a cost-saving healthcare delivery system with outcomes comparable to or better than those of conventional care processes. The literature also points out the importance of economic perspectives in the findings and interpretation of an analysis.
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