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Dermatologists honored for pioneering teledermatology in the U.S. Army


American Academy of Dermatology recognizes Drs. Hon Pak and Darryl Hodson with national “Patient Care Hero” awards

Rosemont, Ill. (JUNE, 2, 2020) – The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has named board-certified dermatologists Hon Pak, MD, FAAD, MBA, and Darryl Hodson, MD, FAAD, as Patient Care Heroes for their work launching the country’s first robust teledermatology project two decades ago.

In the 1990s, practicing dermatology in the military required physicians overseas to send photos of skin conditions to dermatologists in the United States, who would make a diagnosis. Drs. Pak and Hodson launched a full-scale teledermatology program with the U.S. Army in 2000 that virtually connected dermatologists with other health care providers in an effort to streamline diagnosis and treatment.

Early lessons from the Army’s program paved the way for the broader telemedicine offerings being provided to patients throughout the United States today, including efforts to triage both acute and chronic care virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telemedicine prevents disease spread by keeping more patients safely at home and reserving in-person visits for patients with the most urgent and essential conditions.

“We were inspired to develop a platform to make the process more efficient. To date, we’ve completed more than 50,000 patient consultations in more than 50 countries,” said Dr. Pak, former chief information officer, U.S. Army Medical Department. “There are many lessons applicable to civilian telemedicine operations. Technology allows us to expand our ability to provide expert care to people in need.”

To support the 2000 launch, Drs. Pak and Hodson hired trained telehealth coordinators, purchased standardized cameras, and taught coordinators how to properly capture images. Dr. Hodson also developed key personal relationships with primary care physicians and their health care teams by holding in-person discussions and forums.

“Telemedicine helps the military address service members’ health needs regardless of their location,” said Dr. Hodson, formerly the U.S. Army’s chief of teledermatology, who is now in private practice in Georgia. “I am incredibly proud of this program’s lasting positive influence on the lives of my fellow service members and their families.”

The AAD created the Patient Care Heroes program to recognize physicians who transform patients’ lives by utilizing their expertise and collaborating with other physicians to treat serious skin disease.

“Dermatologists have been using telehealth for decades to provide specialized care to patients in rural and underserved areas. During this public health emergency, dermatologists are leveraging this expertise to triage patients and provide as much care as possible virtually,” said board-certified dermatologist Bruce H. Thiers, MD, FAAD, president of the AAD. “Drs. Pak and Hodson were pioneers, laying the groundwork for dermatologists to provide safe, effective patient care remotely—whether that patient is a member of the armed forces or social distancing during COVID-19.”

To learn more about how Drs. Pak and Hodson worked together, visit https://www.aad.org/skinserious/stories-hon-pak.

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About SkinSerious SkinSerious is a campaign by the American Academy of Dermatology that highlights dermatologists’ role as partners in the health care system, providing expert care for serious conditions. To learn more, visit SkinSerious.org.

About the AAD Headquartered in Rosemont, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology, founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 20,000 physicians worldwide, the AAD is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the AAD at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or aad.org. Follow the AAD on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology), Twitter (@AADskin) or YouTube (AcademyofDermatology).