Telehealth service offers greater access to dermatologists

In celebration of World Skin Health Day, the Australasian College of Dermatologists has launched a new resource, Telehealth, allowing people to access specialist dermatologist care over the phone or video chat.

Central Coast resident, Jamie Chesworth, is one of thousands suffering from chronic eczema and said having the option of Telehealth treatments had increased his standard of life.

“I have had chronic eczema all my life, off and on since I was three, and it really hit me hard around my teen years where I was in and out of Royal North Shore hospital,” Chesworth said.

“The treating dermatologist was very limited, and I didn’t really trust them.

“When I was younger, I was basically in treatment and in the hospital for two weeks straight and then out for a weekend.

“I thought ‘I can’t live like this, if this is my future and my life, I would rather be suffering from eczema and just enjoy the outdoors and live my life’.

“I stopped treatments and took up a holistic way of life, with steroid creams and meditation.

“I tried to manage it myself, and it was manageable, but still wasn’t great.

“For years, I just thought I was the worst case and that there was nothing anyone could do.”

After years trying to manage his condition without proper support, Chesworth, joined the Facebook group Adults with Eczema and Eczema Support Australia which led him to find his current dermatologist, Dr Diana Rubel.

“I decided to travel from here to Canberra to see her as my treating dermatologist,” he said.

“She offered to do one appointment face to face and one Telehealth.

“The Telehealth isn’t about the drugs or anything, it is more of a mental health check-up.

“We can get that done over the phone, so that was a great option.

“I would have travelled anyway, but telehealth made it a lot easier.”

Australasian College of Dermatologists President, Associate Professor David Francis, said they wanted to offer patients more flexibility for dermatological care.

“Dermatologists are experienced at seeing patients by telehealth and understand the skin conditions and situations for which telehealth appointments work well, or when a face-to-face consultation is required,” Francis said.

Chesworth said Telehealth is important because of the connection gained between doctor and patient.

“Dr Rubel is there, even though she’s in Canberra she doesn’t seem that far away,” he said.

“I have friends who are in really rural places, where are they going to go to see a specialist?

“If they can have access to telehealth, it’s just invaluable as it helps make everything much more manageable.”

Jacinta Counihan

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