A new digital dermatology service from Edinburgh-based medtech company Storm ID providing remote access to dermatologists is being rolled out across Scotland.
The scale-up follows a successful trial in three health Boards – NHS Forth Valley, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and NHS Grampian – as part of a Small Business Research Initiative funded challenge.
Using their smartphone, tablet or computer, patients register for the service and are invited to virtual digital appointments which are open for several days. During the appointment period, the patient securely submits images of their skin condition, like a flare-up, rash or change in a mole.
In addition, the patient completes questions and provides details of any treatments. The service is used for new and return appointments.
The images and answers are assessed remotely by dermatologists, without having to see the patient in person or via video link. Dermatologists can ‘chat’ with the patient via secure two-way messaging to ask follow-up questions.
They then advise the patient what action to take, which could be a prescription change, referral to another department or invite for a further virtual follow-up or physical examination. Many cases can be discharged without further action.
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Storm ID Director Paul McGinness said: “Current demand on healthcare is presenting significant challenges with delivering all types of appointments, including for those requiring dermatology services.
“With Covid-19, remote patient support and virtual consultations are needed now more than ever. This scale-up across Scotland, which makes use of our Lenus Health Platform, will help many more patients receive expert care from the NHS without leaving home.”
By using the digital approach, patients do not need to travel to face-to-face appointments or enter clinics or hospitals, which is particularly valuable during Covid-19.
The scale-up is being made possible with the support of the Modernising Patient Pathways Programme, Scottish Government and NHS National Services Scotland.
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Consultant Dermatologist at NHS Forth Valley Colin Morton said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing clinicians to think differently. The scale-up of Digital Dermatology Assessments will help us reach more patients across Scotland, resulting in quicker diagnosis and improvement in quality of referrals to other services.
“From our trial, we know digital appointments take less time, typically around seven minutes, which is good for both patients and clinicians.”
Jeane Freeman MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport added: “Supporting patients by offering more choice and flexibility over how they access health services has been crucial during the pandemic. I welcome the development and national roll-out of the Digital Dermatology Assessment system which will continue to improve patients access to services now and in the future.”