By Abby Van Voorhees, MD, April 01, 2015
For those born in April, the diamond is the birthstone. The name is believed to derive from the Greek word adamas which means invincible. This stone has been an important symbol for millennia. In ancient medicine it was thought to have healing powers. People were encouraged to heat this stone and sleep with it to draw out various toxins in order to regain health. I like the idea that it was thought to be invincible. Of late, though, the appearance of diamonds has morphed. No longer just clear and crystal-like, all sorts of colors are now seen — blues, browns, yellows, pinks. And so it has become more versatile, appealing to those who favor a different look. I wonder where all these colored stones were before? Were they simply discarded as not worthy? Were they just not sellable and therefore overlooked? It makes me wonder what junk I have that one day will become the next treasure. It also makes me think of telemedicine, a part of dermatology that has been around awhile but is only now gathering steam.
This month the focus of Dermatology World is on teledermatology. Health care is changing in many ways, and this is certainly one of the big ones for us. Our features review the history of teledermatology and the prescient views of some of our own. Carrie Kovarik understood its potential in serving those without care in Africa; Bill James saw its potential in serving the underserved here at home via AccessDerm; Karen Edison and April Armstrong saw its role in rural areas; the military saw its role in serving those in battle. They were not the only ones; others were critical too. These early views demonstrated the potential of teledermatology. We now see that it can allow for greater access to care in some settings and can offer flexibility for those without access to a dermatologist. The lack of proper coding, legal supports, and insurance coverage have limited its use up to now, but a “climate change” is occurring with many of these barriers coming down state by state. Even CMS is showing signs of moving the needle on this. You will want to read each of our features which focus on different aspects of this ground shift. We have also created a how-to video for those of you who want to get going.
The traditional office visit is akin to that diamond — it is a lovely way to interact with patients. However, like the diamond, which has figured out how to appeal to those wanting color, I predict our interactions with patients will broaden too. Teledermatology may be one tool that will allow us to reach and care for more folks with skin disease. And I don’t know about you, but that is why I became a dermatologist. Trust that you feel the same.
Enjoy your reading.