Utilizing Telemedicine with Psoriasis
With the impacts of COVID-19 limiting in-person doctor appointments, telemedicine has emerged as the go-to alternative. Use of telemedicine, including for dermatology appointments, has grown exponentially since spring 2020; it offers convenience and privacy and could prove especially beneficial to people in more rural areas further from medical centers.1,2
For psoriasis, you’re probably used to seeing a dermatologist in-person, as you know chronic conditions like this require continued care.
In unpredictable times, it’s important to consider telemedicine as an option for your regular check-in with your doctor as they help you stay on track to achieve your treatment goals and ensure your psoriasis doesn’t progress.
For any telehealth appointment, preparation is key to getting the level of care you deserve. Here are some tips to help make the most out of your virtual visits:
1. Gather your information before your appointment
Just like when you attend in-person visits, it’s important to pull together any necessary information, including whether you’ll need to fill out medical documents or provide insurance information, before your visit starts. Even if you’re seeing the same doctor, you might need to re-enter personal information or complete new online forms.
Prior to your virtual visit, if not sent to you already, you should check in with your doctor’s office to confirm which video platform your dermatologist will use for the appointment, and if you need to dial-in or if they will call you. Having this information ahead of time will ensure your appointment runs smoothly.
2. Take sharp, bright photos ahead of time
Help your dermatologist see your psoriasis even when you aren’t there in person by getting out your camera, or using the camera on your phone, and snapping some pictures. Ideally, you should have both close-up images of the affected area and then a more distanced image of your entire body. The close-up images of the affected area will help your dermatologist assess the redness, scale and thickness of the plaques. The distanced images will help your dermatologist better understand the size and scale of your affected areas in comparison to your entire body.
These photos should ideally be taken indoors with a flash. Hold the camera parallel to your skin for the best shot—and if you can’t reach the affected area at all, ask for help from a family member.
3. No need to get all dressed up
Similar to an in-person appointment, your dermatologist may ask to see a certain plaque or area of your skin so wear loose clothing for your appointment just in case. You should also avoid wearing make-up (if your face is involved) and using products that may cause extra skin irritation the day of your appointment.
4. Make yourself comfortable
Talking about and showing your skin can make you feel vulnerable, so try to find a private, quiet space where you feel comfortable showing your dermatologist affected areas of your skin and can have an open conversation about how you’re feeling physically and emotionally.
5. Take any video calls in a well-lit environment
Just like any photos you take, do your best to take any telemedicine video visits in an environment with good lighting. Your doctor might ask for you to show any easily accessible affected areas, but you will never be asked to show any intimate areas.
6. The conversation you have is very important!
Since this is a virtual interaction between you and your dermatologist, it won’t have as many of the physical and visual cues. Because of this, what you and your doctor talk about is important. A telemedicine visit is still your time to talk about your treatment wants and needs, and even in the current environment you will still be heard.
Our Doctor Discussion Guide can help you steer the conversation, so you get the most out of your visit.
Limits of telemedicine
Although there are many benefits to virtual visits, there are limits to what you can do online. For example, these kinds of visits may not suffice if you need lab work or other investigations. In those cases, you’ll most likely need to go in-person. If you have uncontrolled psoriasis, or involvement of more intimate areas, you may also require an in-person examination.
Be certain to consult with your doctor’s office, hospital or clinic on what your specific case may require, ensuring you’re getting exactly what you need from your visit.
Outlook on telemedicine for psoriasis
From virtual video consultations to prescription home deliveries, telemedicine will continue to remain relevant, so it is beneficial to learn how to navigate it.1-3 Telehealth is a flexible option to stay connected with your dermatologist when you can’t meet in-person, helping you stick to your management plan and stay on course towards your treatment goals.1 It may not be a perfect fit all the time, but the best kind of psoriasis care is the one with continued management and partnering with your dermatologist to follow a treatment plan that works for you.