Computer Electronics

Online Healthcare Platform Treats Psoriasis as Effectively as Office Visits

08 October 2018

Researchers from the Keck School of Medicine have found that online care for psoriasis is just as effective as going to the doctor in person.

Traditional psoriasis treatments required patients to attend regular doctor and dermatologist appointments, and test many treatments. This is not only time-consuming, but it also can be difficult for people who live in rural areas or don’t have the money to make many office visits. The study says that these problems can be overcome by using an online portal, which is just as effective as in-person doctor’s visits.

April Armstrong, M.D., of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Source: Ricardo Carrasco IIIApril Armstrong, M.D., of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Source: Ricardo Carrasco III

"Patients with chronic skin diseases need ongoing care, and depending on where they live, their access to dermatological care can be variable," says the study's lead author April Armstrong, M.D., professor of dermatology, clinical scholar and associate dean for clinical research at the Keck School. "Our study suggests that an online care delivery model is an effective way to bring high-quality care to patients regardless of where they live or what their work/life schedules look like."

The study followed 300 psoriasis patients who were randomly assigned either traditional doctor’s appointments or a web-based connected health platform. On the platform, patients upload images of their skin for doctors to analyze and suggest the right treatment. Doctors can remotely access the patient’s photos, analyze them and prescribe treatments. Patients can also update the system with how the treatments are affecting them.

Psoriasis progress was tracked at three, six, nine and 12 months during the study, which found that the online treatment was just as effective as in-person doctor visits. This opens new doors for online healthcare.

"From a patient's perspective, there are several benefits to an online care delivery model: They don't need to travel to a facility with specialty care, they can receive high-quality specialty care at home and they can communicate with their doctor at a time that's convenient for them," Armstrong says. "From a provider's perspective, the benefits include flexibility in where and when they work."

"The use of teledermatology needs to be considered in other patient populations with chronic skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis. There is a critical need for children and adults with atopic dermatitis to receive high-quality specialist care for this condition through novel telehealth delivery methods," she says.

The paper on this study was published in JAMA Network Open.

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