Surrey Heartlands ICS designed a new model of dermatology care in North West Surrey, using digital teledermatology solutions. The aim of the new model is to help triage patients from their GP to appropriate care as quickly as possible. The system includes a referral support service (RSS) to triage routine skin conditions, and a community based Photohub to triage suspected skin cancers.
The new model aims to ensure that patients are seen in the right clinic, first time, requiring fewer appointments and reducing the impact on secondary care. This requires collaboration between GP practices and Trusts, using new technologies to improve dermatology care.
Unity Insights investigated patient and clinician engagement with these services as well as the outcomes of thousands of referrals, and the impact on primary and secondary care. The analysis identified patients who were able to avoid unnecessary appointments with consultants, saving consultant time, unnecessary trips to hospital, and enabling patients faster access to the appropriate clinic. A cost-benefit analysis then modelled the predicted value provided by the service to the NHS over five-years.
Dermatology services are under increasing pressure to meet the rising demand, and new models of care are required to meet patients’ needs. The evaluation provided Surrey Heartlands ICS insights into the effectiveness of the teledermatology model, key opportunities for improvement, and a comparison for alternate solutions as they trial AI-supported pathways.
The new model made some positive impacts to patient experience in dermatology operating between May 2021 and July 2022:
Insights gathered through this evaluation will be used to inform rollout of the service as it expands across North West Surrey, and trials the use of AI solutions as part of this teledermatology model.