Accuracy of remote burn scar evaluation via live video-conferencing technology


Accuracy of remote burn scar evaluation via live video-conferencing technology


Lawrence Cai
James Chang

Date Published: December 2016
Training and capacity building
Burn Contractures


Telemedicine in outpatient burn care, particularly in burn scar management, may provide cost-effective care and comes highly rated by patients. However, an effective scar scale using both video and photographic elements has not been validated. The purpose of this study is to test the reliability of the Patient and Observer Scar Assessment Scale (POSAS) using live video-conferencing.


A prospective study was conducted with individuals with healed burn scars in Kathmandu, Nepal. Three independent observers assessed 85 burn scars from 17 subjects, using the Observer portion to evaluate vascularity, pigmentation, thickness, relief, pliability, surface area, and overall opinion. The on-site observer was physically present with the subjects and used a live videoconferencing application to show the scars to two remote observers in the United States. Subjects used the Patient portion to evaluate the scar that they believed appeared the worst appearance and had the greatest impact on function.


The single-rater reliability of the Observer scale was acceptable (ICC > 0.70) in overall opinion, thickness, pliability, and surface area. The average-rater reliability for three observers was acceptable (ICC > 0.70) for all parameters except for vascularity. When comparing Patients’ and Observers’ overall opinion scores, patients consistently reported worse opinion.


Evaluation of burn scars using the Patient and Observer Scar Assessment Scale can be accurately performed via live videoconferencing and presents an opportunity to expand access to burn care to rural communities, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, where patients face significant access barriers to appropriate follow-up care.