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Tag Archive:business technology

Byitbudd5

The Internet of Things and Business Employee Security

IoTEach day, nearly six million devices connect to the Internet. The International Data Corporation estimates that by 2020, there will be 26 times more devices connected to the Internet than people! With the rapid growth of Internet “gadgets” such as Fitbits, NEST home automation systems, refrigerators that email you a grocery list, and all of the phones and tablets in use, it is easy to understand the explosive growth in the “Internet of Things” (IoT).

As the IoT continues to expand, business owners are struggling to keep up, especially in regard to device privacy and security. These employers must manage any potential risk to customers and vendors arising from the conduct of their employees, while also protecting the employees’ best interests.

The first concern for an employer is to minimize the risk of a data breach resulting from careless or rogue employees. Minimizing this insider risk is often the first line of defense. Although data security is usually seen as an “IT concern”, it is an issue for any business that wants to minimize potential liability. Companies should consider conducting a privacy or security risk assessment, minimizing the data they collect and retain, and testing their security measures before launching their products. As for personnel practices, organizations should train all team members about good security practices.

Enhancing Business Security in the IoT

For companies who process or store IoT data, they should only store necessary records and information for the correct period of time and in the proper format. A business is in a better position in any litigation or government investigation if it can show that it took reasonable steps to protect confidential data within its possession. Most states already impose data breach obligations on companies, and some jurisdictions even require a written information security program (WISP) outlining what they have done to protect confidential data. This process involves using specific policies and employment agreements related to the storage and dissemination of IoT and other electronic data, as well as training of individuals with data access.

Employee training options include:
• Teaching employees about the importance of data security to create a culture of awareness and safety;
• Implementing policies on what data is retained, how long it is retained, and how it is stored and protected;
• Adopting policies addressing employee use of laptop computers and other mobile devices, including bring-your-own-device policies;
• Developing policies on employees using public WiFi while outside of the office and requiring the return of all mobile devices and information from employees upon job conclusion;
• Implementing checklists and procedures to block computer system access for any terminated employee;
• Establishing programs to monitor employee compliance with security, including potential internal attacks to determine employee vulnerability; and
• Developing appropriate password and encryption policies with assistance from IT.

The IoT gives business owners the ability to have a more efficient, productive and healthy workforce. However, prudent businesses will take the necessary steps to not only protect themselves against data breaches caused by employees, but will also take steps to ensure that to the extent an employer obtains employee health data, appropriate steps are taken to protect the privacy and proper use of that information.

If you need help making sure that your business is secure and ready for the IoT, contact Dorset Connects.

Byitbudd5

Time is Running Out on the Free Windows 10 Upgrade

Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade offer will end on Friday, July 29th. After that date, the cost to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro will be $199. The free upgrade is available to qualified new or existing Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 devices. To initiate the upgrade, users just need to click on the Windows 10 pop-up window when it appears on their desktop screen. All of your files will be automatically transferred, but we recommend backing up your data prior to initiation.

Windows 10 logo

What’s in It for Me?

If you have been hesitant to make the switch to Windows 10, here are four reasons why you should do so by the 29th:

  1. Look out Siri, here comes Cortana: This voice-commanded personal assistant can play music, take notes, tell you jokes, and remind you to pick up milk before you head home from the office. As a plus, Cortana’s Notebook function keeps track of your interests for future use.
  2. The new browser, Microsoft Edge, offers improved compatibility and speed, as well as helpful new capabilities like webpage markup and reading mode.
  3. The upgrade includes enhanced security features, such as Device Guard, Microsoft Passport, and Windows Hello.
  4. It has universal apps, including an Xbox feature that lets players stream games from the console to the PC and play multiplayer games from your PC against other players on Xbox.

In addition to Windows 10, Microsoft has stated that all future upgrades will be free, including the 1-year Anniversary Update, which is scheduled for Tuesday, August 2nd.

Business Benefits of Windows 10

Now running on more than 350 million PCs, Microsoft expects Windows 10 be running on 1 billion machines by 2018. While most of the first-year adopters have been individual consumers, business users who have completed the upgrade have noticed improved ease of use, improvements in worker productivity, and an increase in cost savings by enabling security features provided by the upgrade, such as Credential Guard and Device Guard.

If you have questions about how to make the most of the Windows 10 upgrade for your business, contact Dorset Connects today at 484-845-1600.

Byitbudd5

Why Secure Email is Essential for Your Business

Malware most commonly reaches your business through email. As attacks become more sophisticated, your business could be vulnerable. A malware attack means more than just a security risk. If attacked, your business runs the risk of lost intellectual property, productivity, business reputation, time and money. The average total organizational cost of a data breach in the U.S. is $6.5 million, and an average of 250,000 malware variants are detected every day.

070516 blog post image

Malware is any software created to cause damage, but there are different types and considerations when looking to protect your small business. What types of malware are threats to your small business?

  • Spyware is software that gathers information on a user or organization without their knowledge.
  • Trojan horses are malicious programs that trick victims into installing on their computer.
  • Phishing is an attempt to acquire sensitive information by posing as a trusted entity.
  • Worms are standalone programs that replicate themselves to spread to other devices.
  • Ransomware restricts access to system data, demanding ransom to remove the restriction.
  • Viruses are malware that replicate by inserting copies of themselves into other programs, files or hard drives.

Unprotected emails open the door to attacks. Most viruses, Trojan horses and worms are activated when users open attachments or click links in email messages. Without proper protection, you’re opening the door for costly and damaging attacks. The right preventative measures, however, will guard your business against the loss a malware attack brings. These include secure email hosting, email encryption, using a secure email server and anti-virus protection.

Malicious or criminal attacks are the primary cause of data breaches: 49 percent involved a malicious or criminal attack, 19 percent concerned negligent employees and 32 percent involved IT and business process system glitches. Businesses can build up their defenses by using a paid, hosted cloud. Fortunately, Microsoft Office 365’s Exchange Online cloud-hosted email for business fortifies your IT defenses with a variety of tools like robust antivirus protection, automatic patching and anti-spam filtering.

As attacks become more sophisticated, advanced security, privacy, encryption and anti-virus technologies from Office 365 can be your best defense. To learn more about the protection that Exchange Online can offer your business, check out the infographic, “Guarding against email attacks.

Thanks to the Microsoft Office Team for this contribution.

Byitbudd5

What Does the Microsoft-LinkedIn Deal Mean for Your Business?

Microsoft LinkedIn DealWith the recent announcement of Microsoft’s $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, many businesses that use on Microsoft products are wondering how the union of the tech giant and the world’s largest professional social media network will affect them. Here are three ways that this partnership could benefit your business:

Selling will become more social than ever

Many salespeople who currently use LinkedIn for generating leads and closing deals can only see potential opportunities via their individual connections and networks. Microsoft Dynamics CRM users will be able to connect with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which will enhance their ability to build more meaningful relationships with prospects and customers through user data, leading to better sales results.

Mega marketing

The acquisition will offer marketers more opportunities to engage directly with LinkedIn’s 433 million (and counting) users. One such potential way to do so is with the LinkedIn Lead Accelerator, which could be used to maximize retargeting results for Bing ads. Advertisers who use LinkedIn ads and other offerings from the network’s Marketing Solutions services may be able to expand their reach to other areas of the Microsoft suite, including Outlook, Office365, and Skype.

Making it easier to get the job done

In his email to Microsoft employees about the LinkedIn acquisition, company CEO Satya Nadella said, “This combination will make it possible for new experiences, such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete.” LinkedIn Learning (based on the acquisition of educational site Lynda.com in 2015), will also be integrated into Office365, which means that employees who want to learn new skills could find courses without having to leave Office and search the Internet for e-learning opportunities.

Byitbudd5

The future of video conferencing—3 trends breathing new life into a decades old industry

The future of video conferencing

For decades, video conferencing has been a nice-to-have feature for most businesses, but not a necessity. Thanks to advances in both hardware and software—as well as the growing demand for visual communications among millennials in the workforce—that’s all about to change.

Despite the decrease in bandwidth costs, both hardware and software continue to improve video quality while using better compression methods that eat up even less bandwidth. This has helped reduce the costs of video conferencing services and devices, which has led to a widespread adoption in the workplace. Today, virtual meetings can be held in large video conferencing rooms dedicated to cross-team collaboration, on mobile devices like tablets and cell phones or while simply sitting at a desk using VOIP or a conference phone.

As technology continues to improve, here are three trends to expect for the future of video conferencing:

A younger workforce will expect high-quality video conferencing services

The future of video conferencing 2

Cisco recently reported on a growing trend in video conferencing with younger employees stating the stark difference between today’s leaders and leaders of the future. Those in leadership today are very enthusiastic about technology and want to use it where possible, whereas leaders of the future will be dependent on technology and therefore will expect to utilize it throughout their daily lives.

A joint survey performed by Redshift Research and sponsored by Cisco provides context for this statement. According to the survey, 87 percent of young respondents would prefer to work for a more “video-enabled” organization over one that limits its investment in video conferencing. In addition, 84 percent of respondents believe that they would rely on virtual meetings with video for one out of every four interactions at a minimum.

In addition to expecting video as an almost default collaboration tool, 75 percent of young professionals surveyed say they will not settle for low quality. This expectation stems from growing up with technology that continues to improve at warp speed.

Video conferencing will be used for more than the traditional virtual meeting

The future of video conferencing 3

In a recent Q&A session, Lovina McMurchy, general manager of Skype Advertising, stated that Skype averages 8 billion hours of social video calls each year—this has been the case since 2011, when Microsoft acquired the company. The growing trend of video calls will continue to change how people interact with one another and combat some of the stigma associated with choosing video conferencing over face-to-face meetings.

In addition to the growing social use associated with video conferencing, it is now becoming more commonplace during the modern interview process. Global companies often seek global talent, but traveling out-of-state for a job interview isn’t always the best approach. Because of this, a recent study conducted by PGI suggests that 66 percent of job candidates prefer video interviews over traveling to meet a potential employer. This is even becoming more common with local candidates that might need to meet a large team whose schedules do not align.

Video conferencing has also become a popular feature of quality enterprise business solutions. By integrating video conferencing services with enterprise systems, employees are finding new and unique ways to run virtual meetings that go beyond traditional methods. In the same Redshift Research survey about video conferencing, respondents were asked about future features that would help them improve meetings with enterprise integration. Fifty-four percent of respondents showed interest in customizing the viewer’s experience with social media sharing tools. Twenty-one percent would prefer real-time language translation and pop-up bubbles that provide LinkedIn and Salesforce information on meeting participants.

Virtual reality will take video conferencing to the next level

The future of video conferencing 4

Video conferencing services let participants communicate on many levels beyond a traditional conference call. Through viewing facial expressions and body language, participants are able to experience different non-verbal cues, which often make up 93 percent of standard communication. Through virtual reality, participants can take virtual meetings even further.

By wearing a headset like the HoloLens, which combines both virtual and augmented reality into one experience, meeting participants can all sit in the same room together, no matter where they are physically located. This is accomplished via holograms that can be viewed through the headset.

With traditional video conferencing, participants only look into a camera and onto their screens to see one another. This often leads to missed eye contact and a continued feeling of separation. With technology like the HoloLens, participants can turn their head to the left to look at the hologram of the person sitting on their left. They can turn to their right to interact with the person on their right. In addition, they can share projects and manipulate them in real-time as a team. All of this can be done in a virtual environment set in the physical world.

These are just three trends of many set to change the way we interact with one another through video conferencing. As technology continues to evolve, virtual meetings will quickly become the norm and the board room conference phone will become nothing more than a retro paperweight.

Thanks to the Microsoft Office Team for this contribution.

Byitbudd5

Microsoft Azure: The smart person’s guide

By James Sanders

The rise of cloud computing provides businesses the ability to quickly provision computing resources without the costly and laborious task of building data centers, and without the costs of running servers with under or un-utilized capacity due to variable workloads.

Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, launched in February 2010. In addition to traditional cloud offerings such as virtual machines, object storage, and content delivery networks (CDNs), Azure offers services that leverage proprietary Microsoft technologies. For example, RemoteApp allows for the deployment of Windows programs using a virtual machine, with clients on Windows, OS X, Android, or iOS using the program through a remote desktop connection. Azure also offers cloud-hosted versions of common enterprise Microsoft solutions, such as Active Directory and SQL Server.

This easily digestible introduction to Microsoft’s cloud platform will be updated periodically to keep IT leaders in the loop on new Azure services and ways in which they can be leveraged.

Executive summary

  • What is it? Microsoft Azure is a collection of various cloud computing services, including remotely hosted and managed versions of proprietary Microsoft technologies, and open technologies, such as various Linux distributions deployable inside a virtual machine.
  • Why does it matter? Azure lacks upfront costs or an appreciable time delay in resource provisioning — capacity is available on demand. With a usage-based billing formula, Azure is a compelling option for enterprises transitioning from on-premises Windows servers to the cloud.
  • Who does this affect? Azure can be utilized at any scale, from a garage startup to a Fortune 500 company. Because of the ease of transition, organizations with an existing Windows Server deployment may find Azure to be best suited to their needs.
  • When is this happening? Azure launched in February 2010, with additional services and regional data centers being added continually since launch.
  • How do I get it? New users receive a $200 service credit good for 30 days when signing up for Microsoft Azure; the credit can be applied toward any Microsoft-provided service. Additional discounts and credits are available for startups, nonprofits, and universities.

What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure is a platform of interoperable cloud computing services, including open-source, standards-based technologies and proprietary Microsoft solutions. Instead of building an on-premises server installation, or leasing physical servers from traditional data centers, Azure’s billing structure is based on resource consumption, not reserved capacity. Pricing varies between different types of services, storage types, and the physical location from which your Azure instances are hosted.

For example, Storage pricing varies based on redundancy and distribution options. In the Central US region, locally redundant storage (LRS), with 3 copies in one data center, starts at $0.024 per GB. Zone redundant storage (ZRS), with 3 copies distributed across different data centers, starts at $0.03 per GB. Geographically redundant storage (GRS), with 3 copies in one data center and 3 copies in a second geographically distant data center, starts at $0.048 per GB. Read-Access GRS, which allows for read access at the second data center, starts at $0.061 per GB.

In addition to the aforementioned storage, virtual machine, CDN, and Windows-related services, Azure also offers a variety of other services. Azure IoT Suite offers various options for connecting and monitoring devices, as well as providing telemetry and analytics services. Redis Cache is a managed version of the popular open-source Redis data structure server; DocumentDB is a hosted NoSQL database for specific use cases; and Search is an OData-based managed search service. Azure Media Services offers cloud-based video playing, indexing, transcoding, and content protection services.

Why does Microsoft Azure matter?

Azure, like other cloud service providers, offers the ability to instantly provision computing resources on demand. Compared to the laborious task of planning and building an on-site data center, along with the requisite hardware upgrades, maintenance costs, server cooling requirements, electricity costs, and use of floorspace — particularly for offices with associated real estate costs — the savings can add up very quickly.

The benefits of Azure extend beyond cost control, however. The laborious task of administering certain technologies such as Windows Server, Active Directory, and SharePoint can be greatly eased with the combination of Azure and Office 365. This frees up IT staff to work on new projects, rather than spending time on general system upkeep.

Who does Microsoft Azure affect?

Organizations with an existing deployment of Microsoft technologies, particularly Windows Server and Active Directory, will find Azure to be a compelling upgrade. As Windows Server 2008 has reached the end of mainstream support, planning for a migration to cloud-hosted Azure services may be preferable to investments in new server hardware and Windows Server licenses.

As with any cloud service, the cost benefit is more real for cash-strapped startup organizations that lack the capital for provisioning hardware and associated costs of a traditional on-premises deployment, or leasing dedicated servers in a traditional data center. Because the billing structure of Azure is based on resources used, turning to the cloud allows the IT backbone of a given company to scale with corporate growth.

When is Microsoft Azure happening?

The Azure platform was announced in October 2008, and reached general commercial availability in February 2010. Originally called Windows Azure, it was renamed to Microsoft Azure in July 2014.

Under Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Azure has expanded to include support for a variety of Linux distributions available in virtual machines on the Azure platform. Presently, CentOS, CoreOS, Debian, Oracle Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise, openSUSE, and Ubuntu are supported in the Azure platform. Additionally, Azure supports Docker images.

How do I get Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft’s BizSpark program offers $10,000 per month of Azure service credits for users of BizSpark Plus for one year for a total of $120,000. Eligibility is dependent on collaboration with a startup accelerator, with Microsoft partnering with over 150 startup accelerators in 47 countries.

For other organizations, BizSpark is available to privately-held companies less than five years old that earn less than $1 million annually. The standard tier provides up to $750 per month ($150 per month for up to five developers) for three years for a total of $27,000.

Microsoft has also pledged to donate $1 billion in cloud services to universities and nonprofit organizations over the next three years. Eligible organizations can register for free access at Microsoft Philanthropies.

For individual developers, new registrants receive a $200 platform credit applicable toward any Azure service, excluding third-party offerings in the Azure Marketplace. Certified Microsoft Partners, such as Dorset Connects, can help your business evaluate Azure and make the best determination for your organization.

 

Byitbudd5

Tackling Technology Budgeting for SMBs

To stay competitive, troublesome Technology budgeting can’t be avoided

The typical SMB manager’s approach to IT budgeting used to be pretty straightforward. Keep it lean. Keep it simple. Avoid change as much as possible. Fix what’s broken, and upgrade when only necessary.

And since there’s often a vocal group outside of IT that’s unhappy with change, you would think twice before you made a major investment into a project that might have a disruptive effect. That doesn’t work too well anymore.

Disruptive stays ahead of competition

Disruptive is no longer a bad word. It is almost a mandate. The competitive and efficiency advantages that innovations such as cloud computing offer have become too big to ignore. The other guy is reaping the benefits while your company is stuck in neutral.

At the same time, IT thinking has changed too. People are thinking less about IT as the department that keeps the machines humming, and more as the gatekeepers of a company’s information and process matrix. IT can be a profit center in its own right. IT suddenly has a lot more to live up to—and it needs the means to do it.

How do you break out of just-getting-by, repair-and-replace IT budgeting and create a budget that really makes sense for your business? You can do this in much the same way as other budgeting is accomplished. Start with a solid assessment of needs, benefits, and costs.

Ask the right questions

Along the way, it helps to ask a few key questions that can help determine the right spending level for your company.

* What are the neighbors doing? IT spending varies wildly by industry and business size. There is no universal “right” dollar amount from one company to the next. It’s doubtful that your competitors discuss their spending with you. But new or trending technology initiatives that support small businesses can give you an idea of where you need to invest. Examples are the moves toward hosted applications or a mobile-enabled workforce. (See Transform Your Small Business Through New, Affordable Technology for more data!)

* How do you expect technology to support your business objectives? Technology is expensive, no doubt about it, but nowhere near as expensive as lost market share or missed revenue projections. Your IT department and the technological tools play a central role in hitting company performance targets. Take full account of that role and spend accordingly.

* Are you thinking about costs or benefits first? Sure, nobody likes making significant capital expenditures. But, an exclusive focus on cost-cutting or lean operations can be fatal to competitive capability where technology is concerned. The benefits of maintaining an optimal business technology environment are tangible and can have a decisive effect on business results.

What are others spending on their Technology?

This may sound like a bitter pill, but try to swallow it anyway. No matter how much you’ve spent, you may be underspending. A recent study showed that the size of the average IT team is 3.7 people in North America, but it is 4.4 people in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. That’s seven-tenths more in terms of a worker’s yearly hours that EMEA companies of comparable size spend on innovation, problem solving, efficiency drives, and business automation. For companies with undersized IT departments, it’s a lost opportunity.

Whether you’re working with outsourced or in-house IT, you get what you pay for. The same spend-and-receive principle holds true for investment in development, applications, cloud services and other IT functions.

A properly allocated, right-sized IT budget can have a transformative effect upon your business, particularly if lean years or simple inertia has led your company to slip behind the technology curve.

Developing a well-considered IT budget might seem like a difficult task if you haven’t tackled it head-on before. The rewards of IT budgeting are matched by the risks of failing to.

Byitbudd5

Three Ways the Cloud Protects Your Data

Organizations today are dependent on their need to access a lot of data. More and more, that critical information is moving to the cloud.

Here are three ways that moving to the cloud ensures that you’ll have access to your important files when you need them.

Your Information is ALWAYS Available to You

Moving your data to the cloud ensures that your employees always have access to the information they need when they need it. Whether your company offers flexible work locations for remote workers, or your sales team is on the road and needs access to close a deal, when you move to the cloud, the information is available – at any time and from any device. It saves time and improves your team’s overall productivity.

Your Data is Incredibly Safe

While most people understand the benefits of being able to access their data via the cloud, the most common question we get about the process has to do with data security. At Dorset Connects, we take multiple steps to ensure that your data is completely secure.

In addition to encrypting your data during transfers and employing a multi-factor authentication process, we take another critical step in securing your data by educating your staff. How your team protects your data is frequently overlooked, but integral to an effective data security strategy.

By working with your employees to ensure everyone understands the necessity of the data security measures, everyone becomes a valuable member of the team we have assembled to keep your data safe.

Your Data is Available Even During a Disaster

One of the biggest benefits of moving to the cloud is that regardless of server failures, natural disasters or power outages, you will always have the ability to store and retrieve your most valuable asset: your data. This ensures that you can continue to do business even if you can’t get to the office.

 One client, a regional restaurant chain, used to host their email internally. They faced constant power failures that caused the whole company to lose email access days at a time. Employees would have to resort to using personal email to communicate, causing major disruption to business.

By moving to the cloud, this client was finally able to maintain constant access to their emails, and thereby avoid the hassle that their frequent email outages caused, allowing them to maintain business as usual.

Making the move to the cloud can be a big decision. What it ultimately means to your business is peace of mind, improved employee productivity, and enhanced business agility. Just imagine the ways your organization could evolve if you partnered with an expert company like Dorset Connects to give your employees access at any time, from anywhere, on any device.

Learn more by joining our live breakfast event: Cloud in My Coffee. Register here.

Byitbudd5

Enhancing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for Small & Midsized Businesses

Introduction

Small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) become successful by truly understanding their customers and being responsive to customer needs. They deliver a superior Customer Experience from initial contact, to sale, delivery, and post-sale service. It is their prime marketplace differentiator. And customer relationship management (CRM) software has become critical to SMBs by automating their ability to identify profitable sales opportunities and to develop customer loyalty and lifetime value, including social media referrals. CRM applications, combined with business savvy, makes these businesses more competitive in an often challenging market. Still, there are business, economic, and vendor technology challenges in turning realization into reality. How the small to mid-sized firms respond when implementing CRM and deciding on the right applications could well decide their future.

CRM Trends

The following are several trends that are shaping the use of CRM and the design of CRM applications today:

  • CRM focus shift. Businesses are changing their CRM use priorities from sales, then support, and then marketing, to marketing and sales in tandem, followed by support. As a result, SMBs achieve higher profits by targeting customers whose requirements and budgets fit best with their products and services. Abetting this strategy are the customers themselves targeting specific companies to engage. There are more productive sales lead qualifications, faster closings, greater customer satisfaction, loyalty, and referrals. There also is reduced customer service and support costs. Customers are experiencing fewer issues with their products and services now that they’re getting more aligned with their needs.
  • Strategic social media use. SMBs are now turning to CRM tools to “social prospect” – surfacing prospects’ career, demographics, interests, location, and purchase information from their social content. They are enhancing customer lifetime value (CLV) by uncovering, assessing, and tracking customers’ social influence and referral values. SMBs target the top social influencers with specific content or offers, and measure product use across demographics. They quickly spot their strongest brand advocates and ensure they stay loyal and engaged.
  • Stronger solutions. CRM applications aimed at SMBs are becoming easier to use, more functional, with added integrations and workflows. They supply deeper insights into customers and sales staff performance. They now permit any mobile device access and data inputs from multiple sources. CRM for SMB applications often now feature marketing automation, sales acceleration, and integration with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Hosted CRM applications have given SMBs more affordable and flexible access to features once only available with expensive and enterprise-targeted on-premise delivered solutions.

Read the full report: http://www.reportlinker.com/p03186599-summary/view-report.html

 

Byitbudd5

Teledermatology helps improve access to face-to-face care

By Susan D. Hall

A teledermatology program helped improve patient access to face-to-face care in a study at the Mann-Grandstaff Spokane Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center in Spokane, Washington.
Most teledermatology research focuses on specialist visits avoided, notes the report, published in Telemedicine and e-Health. In light of the VA wait-time scandal, these researchers wanted to examine the effect of teledermatology on wait times for specialist appointments.

As a means of dealing with the burgeoning demand for dermatology services, the VA center trained two primary care physicians to perform basic dermatology procedures at its rural clinics. It also implemented a store-and-forward teledermatology program at the rural clinics. Later, it expanded teledermatology at its main Spokane location.

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The center found a significant unmet need for dermatology services, even at the Spokane facility with a full-time dermatologist.

Within six months of implementation, the total number of requests for dermatology services increased by 40 percent. At the same time, the time between a consultation request and its completion dropped from a mean of 64.2 days to 20.3 days, according to the report.

In addition, with the added staff and teledermatology program, the average wait for a patient to have his or her dermatology condition addressed dropped from 60.6 days to 10.3 days.

A study published last month in JAMA Dermatology found that while visits with dermatologists for treatment of acne via telemedicine ease the burden on patients, many are unwilling to pay out-of-pocket for the service. Another study published in the same journal last spring concluded that Google Glass is a feasible mHealth tool for dermatology diagnosis in the emergency room setting.