By Abby S. Van Voorhees, MD, May 01, 2013
Are we getting our message across?
I Googled the month of May in preparing to write this month’s column, and found a list of noteworthy happenings. The month of May is known as National Bike month, National Physical Fitness and Sports month, Mental Health Awareness month, Healthy Vision month, Mediterranean Diet month, Ultraviolet Awareness month, and Arthritis Awareness month. It’s not that I think any of these listed causes are not worthy of the public’s attention; they all have important merits. As someone who has of late been working hard to reclaim many a muscle that has turned to blubber I am sure that the media’s emphasis on physical fitness will help inspire my lagging interest in my exercise program. However, I worry that with all of the information we are exposed to on a daily basis, our patients may not be getting our message about Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month™. You can help the Academy’s efforts to reach patients about SPOT Skin Cancer™. Be sure when you mention the importance of skin cancer detection and prevention to your patients that you refer them to spotskincancer.org.
Certainly given the excitement of the new developments in the prevention and treatment of all types of skin cancer — BCCs, SCCs, and melanoma — this message should be at least as compelling. Have any doubt about our need for the SPOT campaign? I don’t. All of these topics and more you’ll find in this month’s skin cancer supplement, enclosed with this issue.
Another matter that warrants greater attention is the medical office revolution. Each of our offices is getting a heavy dose of smart technology. EHR is the most obvious form. However, that is only the beginning. Patients bring technology with them with their smart phones and iPads, able to research all topics at a moment’s notice. There is an efficiency of not having paper to handle in the office. No lost papers, charts that can’t be found, stickies that unstick and therefore messages which could get confused. Having apps to quickly check on a diagnosis or treatment regimen or to facilitate educating a patient has great potential. We highlight the new AAD Dermatology A to Z, a patient-friendly website to supplement your educational efforts. Anything to make communication easier is good in my book. [pagebreak]
In contrast to what the public may not be noticing, the recent study on the role of topical ivermectin in treating lice is catching plenty of attention. David Pariser, MD, explains that while not a life-threatening disease, it is associated with a lot of morbidity as kids get treated over and over again to meet the requirements of those strict school nurses. It therefore has a high socioeconomic consequence as children and their parents are kept out of the workplace combing and combing to try to rid themselves of this problem. Oral ivermectin has been a force of change for river blindness for decades. Now, in its topical form, it has the potential to revolutionize head lice therapy. Cheap it is not, but as Dr. Pariser mentions, the lost revenue from absenteeism that head lice causes has a cost too. Lice have spelled trouble for many of us for time immemorial, as Robert Burns noted in 1786 in his poem, “To A Louse, On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church:”
“O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!”
Funny how some things seem to catch everyone’s attention like lice, while other topics are les alluring, like melanoma. Maybe what we need is poetry about skin cancer. Let’s see...
O wad the sun nay s’bright
Oursels wad nay ha to take flight
Maybe I should stick to taking care of patients. Enjoy your reading!