World Skin Day: how Consultant Connect supports the best care for patients with dermatological conditions

Published: 8th July 2024
World Skin Day: Learn how Consultant Connect is supporting the best care for patients with dermatological conditions
World Skin Day

One in four people in England and Wales see their GP about a dermatology-related issue every year, with 3.5 million outpatient or day surgery attendances per annum. In addition, around half of all cancers are of the skin, and this is increasing by 8% annually (Getting It Right First Time). That’s why, this World Skin Day, we’re highlighting how Consultant Connect services are helping healthcare professionals provide the best care for patients with dermatological conditions

Teledermatology

To date, more than two million photos have been taken via our Enhanced Photo Messaging Advice & Guidance service, with outcomes showing an average of 65% of general dermatology queries avoid an unnecessary referral. The service rapidly connects NHS clinicians so that patients receive the right care in the right place, the first time. The IG-secure platform allows clinicians to take and send patient images via the free Consultant Connect App or send existing photos via Consultant Connect in the user’s browser. The clinician can type or dictate a message to attach to the photos to obtain quick and comprehensive advice. The service also works on 2WW pathways, and our data shows that, on average, 43% of patients are discharged before their appointments:

 

‘I recently saw a patient who had hidradenitis suppurativa. They were in a lot of pain and were regularly going to the hospital to have abscesses drained. This continued to the point where the patient was expressing suicidal thoughts because of the constant agony they were in. We had tried all options available to us, and the next step was a referral to Secondary Care. I sent a message to the Dermatology specialists at the University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire via the Consultant Connect App, and they responded with a management plan for the patient. The response was very quick and detailed, and the patient is much happier now; it was a great outcome.’ – Bushra Wassa, Physician Associate in Coventry.

IG-secure clinical photography (PhotoSAF)

The IG-secure clinical photography feature, PhotoSAF, accessed via the Consultant Connect App, allows users to safely capture high-quality patient photos to monitor conditions, and can also be downloaded and attached to existing Advice & Guidance and referral pathways.

‘My daughter had a rash all over her body, and, after a few months, it progressed to itchy red lumps, so I took her to the GP. He used the Consultant Connect App to take photos of her skin, which he downloaded and sent to a local consultant dermatologist for advice. The dermatologist advised that Charlotte needed a face-to-face appointment at the hospital and her referral would be fast-tracked. Because of that, we received a dermatology appointment at The Churchill Hospital three days later. At the appointment, the dermatologist had all the GP’s photos to hand, which was really helpful because he could see the life cycle of Charlotte’s rash instead of an isolated appearance of how it presented on the day.’ – Marie, a patient at Woodlands Medical Centre in Oxfordshire.

 

The Burma Skincare Initiative

We recently commenced a non-profit project in Myanmar in partnership with the Burma Skincare Initiative. Our teledermatology platform is used to improve healthcare outcomes for those in remote communities by enabling communication between UK dermatology specialists and clinicians in Myanmar seeing patients with severe skin conditions. The improved communication has led to faster diagnoses and more effective treatment plans for patients in the most underserved areas. Many people in Myanmar struggle with access to healthcare and, in these cases, quick access to specialist advice could be the difference between life and death.

‘We are very pleased to support the Burma Skincare Initiative with their work to make healthcare readily available in the country. Access to specialist quality healthcare is vitally important to improve outcomes for patients. As well as providing better patient care, the data gathered via the app will support the team to develop training around common conditions.’ – Jonathan Patrick, CEO of Consultant Connect.

Referral Triage and Validation

Our clinically-led Referral Triage and Validation service, delivered by NHS consultants, provides virtual management plans for long waiters or new referrals and has proven to reduce waiting lists by 29% on average, even more in some specialties. The service supports Trusts with clinical staffing challenges by bringing in temporary NHS consultant capacity in the form of ‘virtual locums’. They work remotely and follow local pathways and protocols under the leadership of the Trust’s clinical leads.

4,000 dermatology referrals were recently triaged across one NHS Trust, seeing:

  • 49% of patients safely removed from the waiting list, including redirections to another service, returned to the referrer with sound clinical advice, and advised to commence treatment in the community.
  • 52% of patients were directed to the right place the first time, including upgrades to urgent, and 2WW pathways.

 

‘One clear benefit of the work is in the management of clinical risk as it’s capturing the upgraded patients to 2WW as all cases are now triaged. Where appropriate, the service has provided plans to the GP to enable treatment to commence prior to attending for their first appointment.’ – Michelle Benyon, Service Manager at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals.

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