Local patients with skin conditions will shortly be able to receive expert support without leaving their home, by using the new Digital Dermatology Assessment Service.
Led by the NHS Western Isles Specialist Dermatology team, the service will enable patients to have greater choice and flexibility over how they access the service, whether via a virtual or face-to-face appointment.
Those choosing to use the virtual service can use a smart phone, tablet or computer to register. They will then be invited to a virtual appointment which will remain open for a five-day period, giving the patient time to securely upload images of their skin condition for review e.g. a skin flare up, rash or other skin problem. Patients will also be asked to answer a few questions about their condition, along with details of any treatments that they are using or have used.
The images and information are assessed remotely by the NHS Western Isles Specialist Dermatology team. In addition, a dermatology clinician can virtually ‘chat’ with the patient via secure messaging, to ask follow-up questions and advise the patient of any action needed e.g. a prescription change, referral to another department, or to be invited for a further virtual follow-up or physical examination. A record of the assessment is also automatically sent to the patient’s GP.
Angela Woodley, NHS Western Isles Dermatology Specialist Nurse, said “In many cases the new dermatology digital appointment system will mean that patients will receive a diagnosis direct from the clinician, alongside a treatment plan via secure email or text. The new digital system will allow the Dermatology service to provide expert care, whilst keeping our community safe."
“This method of communication between the patient and the clinician will reduce the need for patients to travel and also reduce waiting times. It provides a permanent record of every digital consultation for the patient to keep, which can also help to support their treatment plan.”
Local teams from NHS Western Isles (IT, TEC and Patient Services) have worked closely with designers ‘Storm ID’ and National Services Scotland, to integrate a seamless service with existing patient record systems.
Donna Maclean, NHS Western Isles Technology Enabled Care (TEC) Officer, said “It is really rewarding to be able to enhance another care pathway using technology. In many cases this could mean a faster route to treatment and could help reduce waiting list times for those people who really do need a face-to-face appointment. It’s also been great to see another example of how keen the Dermatology team are to embrace new technology that could benefit their patients.”
“This innovative method of delivering health care is a more convenient way for patients to receive the same high level they expect, but by conveniently using their own devices in their own homes.”
The new service will commence in Lewis and Harris within the coming weeks, before being rolled out to Uist and Barra.