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GPs pilot telehealth consultations for psoriasis patients

GPs in Oxfordshire are trialling a new telehealth system that gives patients with psoriasis quicker access to specialist advice.

The Oxford Teledermatology Pilot allows GPs to carry out ‘virtual appointments’ with a consultant dermatologist, sharing information from patients’ psoriasis reviews and images of their skin via a secure online platform.

The specialist sends an opinion back on each patient within 48 hours, along with advice on changes to treatment or further appointments.

Currently the average wait for a non-urgent referral to see a dermatology specialist in Oxfordshire is six weeks, so the study leaders hope the telehealth system will cut waiting times considerably and improve patients’ health and quality of life as a result.

Dr Jonathan Bowling, consultant dermatologist and honorary senior clinical lecturer at the University of Oxford, said: ‘Psoriasis must be actively managed and the condition well controlled, so it is vital that people with psoriasis have regular reviews and are able to easily access specialists when they experience a flare-up.

‘Unfortunately this is not always the case and patients often continue to use treatments that are not working for them because, for example, they may be unaware of alternatives.’

A total of five practices are participating in the pilot, which is running until the end of September.

Dr Steve Bright, a GP in Witney whose practice is taking part, said: ‘I’m delighted that the first ever UK psoriasis telehealth initiative is taking place in Oxfordshire.’

He added: ‘I’m very pleased to see the NHS trialling new and sustainable ways to provide the best outcomes for patients and to maximise a patient’s time with their GP.’