PATIENTS living in north Ceredigion will soon be able to take part in a community-based teledermatology pilot which will allow them to be treated by consultants based over 100 miles away in Cardiff.
The Mid Wales Healthcare Collaborative and Hywel Dda University Health Board are pleased to announce the launch of a six-month dermatology pilot, which will allow patients to be seen by consultants without having to travel outside their community.
Instead, patients will be seen at one of seven GP practices involved in the pilot, which make up the north Ceredigion cluster. All have been issued with cameras to develop telehealth services across Mid Wales. The images will then be sent on to Cardiff for consultant dermatologists to advise GPs as to how to treat skin conditions.
If successful, the scheme – which is currently used in Cardiff and Birmingham – will be further extended across mid Wales and the Hywel Dda University Health Board area.
The service potentially allows specialists to come to a diagnosis in a highly efficient way, without seeing the patient in p erson. Patients who need a further consultation will be referred directly either to consultants based at Glangwili General Hospital, Carmarthen, or to the community-based GP dermatology clinic at Borth Surgery.
The scheme is expected to improve access to quality health care for patients; reduce waiting times for specialist opinion; improve the prioritisation of urgent suspected cancers and ensure that patients are seen sooner and by the most appropriate clinician.
GPs will be informed of the diagnosis as quickly as possible, and the service will be cheaper for patients in terms of travel and waiting times, as well as enhancing links between primary care and acute hospitals.
As an added bonus, the scheme will educate GPs in managing patients with dermatological problems, which should help to reduce the number of referrals.
Dr Sue Fish, Clinical Programme Director for the Mid Wales Healthcare Collaborative, said: “This is an important first step in using technology to link GPs in mid Wales to expert advice, and reduces the need for people to travel long distances to receive specialist care.
“It builds on the previous experience we have with teledermatology and extends the service to include more referrals.”