The South West London Dermatology Network was awarded £380,530 by NHSX in March 2021 to develop a new teledermatology service, using digital technology and specialist tools to improve referrals between primary and secondary care.
The population of south west London is diverse so, to ensure this new service met the needs of local people, a patient engagement exercise was undertaken, including focus groups and patient interviews.
The focus groups showed that patients were supportive of the concept of teledermatology but were keen to understand the following:
- How to take good photos of their own skin to share with clinicians?
- Where to signpost relatives and friends who were unable to take their own photos?
- Where to find a reliable source of information about the management of their skin conditions?
The information gathered was used to produce a series of patient education videos on six topics: paediatric eczema, psoriasis, skin cancer, skin examination, lymph node examination, and sun protection.
A video, “how to take a good quality photo of you skin”, was also produced, to help patients. Photos can be sent by patients to their GP, then securely sent to hospital dermatologists for advice and guidance or for the triage process.
To ensure as many people as possible can benefit from the video, it was produced in English, Gujarati, Tamil, Urdu, Polish; the most common languages spoken in south west London – and British Sign Language.
To inform local GPs, local guidelines were produced and a series of educational webinars were held to show the treatment and management of skin conditions, including how the presentation of these conditions may vary in different skin types.
Teledermoscopy training also took place to help GPs take images of moles. As a result, GPs can make more informed decisions about management and referrals, which reduces the waiting times for patients.
Dr Aditi Shah, GP and South West London Dermatology Network Co-Lead, said: “We are finding that patients who were initially not confident in taking their own photographs were empowered after seeing the videos and being able to understand the information in their own language.
“This made diagnosis and consultations easier for clinicians too. Following this success, we are now planning further videos offering QR codes too. The videos have had over 2,400 views to date.”