Cameras in Primary Care - Advantages


When the project was introduced at Neath Port Talbot Hospital doctors found that 60% of patients who were referred with a photograph could avoid their first outpatient visit. So far more than 2,000 first appointments have been saved and by improving the efficiency of dermatology service the Trust hopes to be able to achieve their goal of dramatically reducing waiting lists. The project was funded as a joint venture between the Bridgend and Neath Port Talbot local health boards and the hospitals and is subject to regular performance review. The aim is to deliver increased efficiency and capacity without any effect on the quality of the service. So far there has not been a single adverse event or complaint from a GP or a patient. Using photographs to deal with difficult cases to avoid long journeys from rural areas is not a new concept. Teledermatology has been around in various guises for many years. However the screening approach employed by these dermatologists, whereby every patient has a photograph sent with their referral, is unique to South Wales. A local family doctor in Port Talbot, said: “The introduction of the cameras in primary care has been the single most important change in the local dermatology service in the 25 years I have been in practice.” The scheme won the Bro Morgannwg NHS Trust chief executive’s innovation award in December 2007 and the prize money is being used to set up a health psychology post at the Princess of Wales Hospital to provide counselling and support to those affected by their skin disease.

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