By Abby S. Van Voorhees, MD, July 01, 2011We often wax nostalgic about the good ol’ days, but when it came to sun exposure that mostly translated into many of us getting sunburned. That was often the price of the much needed, glorious tan. We are now much smarter when it comes to sun exposure and the inherent risks of skin cancer. Both in the media and on a national level our messages have begun to pay off. Even when the public is not using sunscreens, the need to protect the skin has become household dogma. And as consumers get more sophisticated, groups such as Consumer Reports and the Environmental Working Group have joined in the dialogue by ranking sunscreens. This is a very positive development – as there will be more sources of information for the public to assess. Understanding sunscreen products and how fully they can protect the skin will hopefully allow the public to be smarter users. Might even encourage some manufacturers to remove their less effective products from the market. Certainly we’ve taken our hits — there have been challenges to the value of sunscreens, or more specifically sun exposure, by those concerned about vitamin D levels. What is quite clear, though, is that the days of baby oil and reflectors are over. Maybe we’ll be able to keep some of the public from becoming our future patients.
This month’s features are very important ones for you to read. The piece on ACOs — accountable care organizations, if you’re not up on the jargon — is one not to miss. While we might wish that these organizations will not materialize, ACOs have the potential to change the ground rules of practice fundamentally. Therefore, dermatologists need to be up to speed on what is being discussed. How we as dermatologists will want or need to participate in these organizations remains uncertain. Rest assured, given these uncertainties, Derm World will be helping us stay abreast of this topic.
Social media started as something my kids did for kicks, but boy, has this exploded into a full force in its own right. I think that you’ll find that this month’s article on social media has lots for everyone. While only half of us are currently participating, this is an important upcoming tool. It has wonderful potential, ranging from advertising one’s practice, to hiring employees, as well as interfacing with other physicians both socially and professionally. But there are some pitfalls as well. Trying to manage these potential downsides is equally important. None of us wants to find our practices being discussed in a negative light and not know what to do next or have staff that can’t seem to stay off Facebook long enough to help us with our patient care. So be sure to read and let us know what you think — how do you see this fitting in to your practices day-to-day?
Each month the choice of what I want to highlight for you is such a challenge, so please don’t limit yourself to just these few. Dirk Elston’s column on multiple procedure codes is really a good one. I think you’ll like that we’ve moved into more challenging situations in our coding advice. And we all will benefit from reading Alexa Kimball’s wisdom about balancing it all. Hopefully we’ll all get some R and R in these next weeks, and therefore have a chance to read this issue cover to cover. And of course, when you do, be sure to bring your sunscreen. As always feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and comments or simply your summer vacation plans.
Enjoy your reading.
Abby S. VanVoorhees, MD