Got eczema? Get this app
By Robin Russell
A dermatology resident at UT Southwestern Medical Center has created a smartphone app that gives physicians easy access to a network of patient advocacy and support resources.
The Skin Advocate iPhone app, developed by Dr. Shadi Kourosh and her mentor, Dr. Paul Bergstresser, Professor of Dermatology and Clinical Sciences, allows a health care provider, while still in the exam room, to refer patients with a skin condition to a patient advocacy organization suited to their diagnoses.
For anyone newly diagnosed with a skin condition, from eczema to cutaneous lymphoma, the app can provide free services, including patient advocacy organizations, physician experts and clinical trials, assistance with access to care and costly treatments, and public education resources. For example, for children with conditions that may be disfiguring or feared contagious, these groups send representatives or materials to help educate teachers and school communities.
“Our hope is that connecting patients with these advocacy groups will help minimize emotional stress due to fear and lack of education about their conditions,” Dr. Kourosh said. “These groups assist by helping to carry the social burden of skin disease. They are extenders of the advocacy goals of physicians.”
Dr. Kourosh, who earned her medical degree from UT Southwestern in 2009, came to work with patient advocacy groups for skin disease through Dr. Bergstresser and Dr. Amit Pandya, Professor of Dermatology. She thought of the idea for the app after listening to advocacy group leaders express concern that many physicians, especially those in residencies or just entering practice, are not aware of the resources available for patients.
The Skin Advocate app features links to patient advocacy groups in the Coalition of Skin Diseases (CSD), a network of groups that are affiliates of the American Academy of Dermatology. It allows users to contact these groups directly from the app or to click the “share” button to send a group’s contact information to patients through an anonymous “do not reply” email.
The app has drawn a 5-star rating from the Apple Store and has received excellent reviews in Dermatology World and Skin & Aging magazines.
Dr. Kourosh also has worked with the information technology department at UT Southwestern to create a “smart list” in the Epic computer system that contains the same information as the app. Any provider in UT Southwestern clinics can type “.dermptadvocacy” in the patient instruction field and choose an organization from the list that appears. The group’s contact information will appear in the patient’s checkout instructions.
The Skin Advocate app is free, and it runs on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. To download, visit the Apple Store and search the app section for “skin advocate” or “dermatology.”
For more information, go to http://skinadvocate.blogspot.com/
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Dr. Bergstresser holds the James N. Gilliam, M.D., Chair in Dermatology.
Dr. Pandya holds the Dr. J.B. Shelmire Professorship in Dermatology.