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Teledermatology Rapid Access Clinic

What do I need to do?

Before you attend you will receive a text message with a link for you to click. Here you will be asked to add some personal details (name, date of birth and hospital/NHS number) for identification purposes and answer some questions about your medical history. As part of this you will be informed that photographs of your skin will be taken and used for your clinical care. Separately you can also consent for the un-anonymised images to be used for other reasons such as research or teaching. You may withdraw your consent to research at any time by contacting the dermatology department without it affecting treatment or future care. Clinical images which have been used to make a clinical decision cannot be deleted as they form part of your medical record. This process should take less than 15 minutes. If you have difficulty completing the information, please don’t worry as the photographer can help you when you attend your appointment.

 What happens next?

When you attend your appointment a specially trained medical photographer will take photographs of the skin lesion identified by your GP. If you have any questions about the photography, please do not hesitate to ask. Depending on where the lesion is you might be asked to remove make-up, jewellery or certain items of clothing to gain a better view and you can request a chaperone if this makes you feel more comfortable.

The photographer will use two different devices; a professional digital camera and a camera phone which uses an artificial intelligence (AI) computer program called DERM that has been developed by Skin Analytics to analyse the lesion and provide additional information to guide management. They will photograph a general locating view of the area, a close-up view and then attach a specialist ‘dermatoscope’ lens that is placed lightly on the skin to provide a highly detailed image of the lesion. Once complete this information is securely transferred and stored in your electronic medical record. Depending on the DERM assessment your case will then be reviewed either by a Dermatologist working at Chelsea & Westminster or Skin Analytics.

Please note: you will not have a face to face appointment with a doctor at this appointment & we will only assess the specific lesion identified by your GP. If you are concerned about other lesions or skin problems please seek advice from your GP.

What happens after my photographs have been reviewed? 

You may be:

  • Offered reassurance that no further tests or treatment are required (discharged)
  • Booked for a routine follow-up appointment (usually within 3-6 months), this may be for repeat photographs or face-to-face in clinic.
  • Booked for a biopsy (skin sample) or removal of the skin lesion
  • Booked for an urgent face-to-face appointment with a dermatologist

If you require non-urgent treatment we may contact your GP to ask them to arrange this.

Does an urgent follow up appointment mean I have cancer?

No. We could ask you to come back urgently for a number of reasons. Urgent appointments will generally be seen within a few weeks and so there should not be a long wait.

What happens if the photograph isn’t conclusive?

Not all lesions are suitable for teledermatology or DERM assessment, if there is any uncertainty you will be called back urgently for a Dermatologist review.

How will I find out the outcome?

You should receive a letter (electronically or by post) within three weeks of your appointment. If you don’t receive this please contact the dermatology secretaries on

Tel: 0207 3154007

Email: chelwest.dermatology@nhs.net

How is my data used?

Your data and images will be stored and transferred securely by both Chelsea & Westminster NHS Foundation Trust and Skin Analytics Ltd who will be joint data controllers for your information and who may access this data along with other authorised bodies to ensure the service is performing as expected. In addition to using this information for your direct clinical care, if you consent this information may also be used for teaching, research and to improve the AI skin cancer service. The Trust Privacy Policy can be found here.

Is it safe?

Differences may exist between teledermatology and face-to-face clinics but many hospitals now offer this service for the referral of skin lesions. Chelsea and Westminster was one of the first to offer this service which has been running for over 4 years and seen over 8500 patients in this way. The service is regularly monitored and shows similar outcomes to face-to-face appointments with no increase in patient harm. Eight out of ten patients would recommend the service to their friends and family.

 

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