Access to dermatology services can be a challenging experience for patients based on the current shortage of qualified dermatologists available. With the introduction of new health technologies, patients are now able to receive care more quickly and easily than ever before.
1. The variety of accessible points of care in dermatology services
Apart from traditional in-clinic consultations with a dermatologist, patients now have a greater number of opportunities to receive accessible skin care services through other health providers. These three main points of care are represented by primary care physicians (PCPs), pharmacies and remote teledermatology services.
2) Pharmacies: similar to PCPs, pharmacies can play a fundamental role as primary points of care. Considering that pharmacies are visited by patients on a more frequent basis, they provide the ideal opportunity to do regular skin check ups. Given the higher survival rates associated with identifying skin conditions such as melanoma in its early stages, having pharmacies provide overall checks is of utmost importance. Pharmacy staff with the access to perform dermoscopic imaging over suspicious lesions can constitute a step further towards identifying skin cancer. Indeed, the connectivity supported by teledermoscopy services can provide details of the skin that are missed in naked-eye examinations. When images are shared online with a dermatologist for analysis and diagnosis, it creates an efficient network of care.
3) Teledermoscopy services: the advent of telecommunication services has revolutionized how healthcare is offered to patients. In fact, this has reached so far as to having patients themselves perform their own skin checks with the aid of mobile dermoscopes. In this respect, DermEngine and other modern dermatology software provide the proper cloud-based platforms over which to offer these services. Either with live-interactive or deferred store-and-forward approaches, patients and doctors can benefit from these accessible and personalized consultations.
The advantage of having better accessibility to dermatology services is mostly related to the greater power of telecommunication systems and their application to healthcare. Indeed, the single idea of being able to get skincare services outside of a dermatologist’s office is intrinsically associated with better connectivity and interoperability. In practical terms, when a patient is seen by a PCP or a pharmacist, overview and dermoscopic images of their skin conditions can be taken and stored in the patient’s profile. The whole report, including patient details and past medical history, can then be easily shared with a licensed dermatologist using teledermatology capabilities. In a similar way, patients can reach out to doctors themselves for direct patient-doctor teledermatology. In this case patients can play a more active role towards their healthcare by learning how to operate a mobile dermoscope.
In reality, the utilization of mobile dermoscopes and cloud-based intelligent dermatology software become the powerhouse of a common platform where PCPs, pharmacists and dermatologists converge to bring the added value of a multidisciplinary approach to patient care.
Better access to healthcare represents more lives saved with less trauma and anxiety side effects for patients, however it sometimes can point to great challenges such as the timely access to appropriate quality and effective healthcare. The shortage of dermatologists can signify difficulty in accessing life-saving services for many people; a multifaceted approach involving several stakeholders provides a powerful synergy to funnel patients into receiving the appropriate care by a qualified dermatologist. This is why a wider variety in points of care represents an important advancement in the fight against skin cancer and other skin conditions.
-The MetaOptima Team
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