The year 2020 may be a transformative year of the 21 st century. The world is buffeted by a deadly
pandemic which has, at the time of writing, afflicted 15 million people and caused more than
610,000 deaths. Dermatologists, together with the rest of the medical fraternity in Singapore have
risen to the challenge. All whom we know continued to provide essential medical services. Some
volunteered to treat patients with Covid-19 at foreign worker dormitories.
Covid-19 has also become the impetus for digital transformation in both the public and private
medical sectors, such as in the form of telemedicine. Telemedicine refers to the “provision of
healthcare services over physically separate environments via Information and Communications
Technology”. Dermatology, with its reliance on visual cues that are easily captured by imaging
technologies, makes it ideally suited for telemedicine.
Teledermatology is not new; it has been described in medical literature since the 1990s, and the National Skin Centre (NSC) and National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP) launched Tele-DERM in 2016 to bring dermatology services to the community. The Ministry of Health has had guidelines in place for telemedicine providers since 2015. The number of teledermatology providers and demand for their services increased significantly during the Circuit Breaker and remain high as many people still prefer not to visit clinics or hospitals. With an aging population, teledermatology may become a more important care model in the years to come, and Covid-19 just gave the shift a nudge.
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