News in brief: Skin images from patients burden dermatologists; JAK inhibitor maintenance for atopic dermatitis; Telehealth MBS items now available for hospital inpatients

22 Sep 2021

E-health skin images overburden dermatologists

Dermatologists in the US are being swamped with skin images after electronic medical record systems enabled patient generated messages.

According to an audit of the electronic health record in the Duke University Health System, dermatologists more than other specialists are impacted.

Since the attachment functionality in the EHR went live, the proportion of patient generated messages with image attachments was 14.4% in dermatology compared to 3.4% in non-dermatology departments (p<0.05).

“Almost all clinicians (93%) agreed that EHR messages benefit patient communication, however, only 44% of clinicians agreed that attachments benefit patient care,” the study said.

The researchers said the disproportionate burden of patient generated messages with image attachments results in a high level of uncompensated work for dermatologists.

Read more in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology

JAK inhibitor maintenance for atopic dermatitis

Patients with atopic dermatitis can be managed with maintenance doses of a JAK inhibitor if they respond to induction treatment, and only a minority have flares, a US study has shown.

A study of 1233 patients with mild to moderate AD showed that two thirds responded to a 12-week course of abrocitinib 200 mg. Of these flares occurred in 19% who continued on that dose for 40 weeks, 43% in patients who took half the dose (100mg), and 81% who took placebo.

Response was regained in 37%, 59% and 82% of these groups respectively with rescue treatment, according to findings published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Telehealth MBS items now available for hospital inpatients

New MBS telehealth items have been introduced to cover in-hospital services for private admitted patients receiving specialist care where the doctor is unable to attend due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Available from 15 September 2021, the 40 temporary items (valid until 31 December) for specialists cover video and phone consultations for a specialist who is located in COVID-19 hotspot, or in isolation or quarantine.

According to Medicare, private health insurance rebates and gapcover schemes do not apply for these telehealth attendances.

Out of pocket costs for the new items will count towards the patient’s Medicare Safety Nets (original and extended).

In its Factsheets, Medicare says MBS specialist telehealth items do not need to be bulk billed, although this is encouraged

“The fee structure for the new items aligns with equivalent face-to-face items and existing COVID-19 telehealth specialist items introduced from March 2020,” it says.

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