Dermatologists often only health care professional patients see

December 14, 2020

1 min read


Barbieri reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

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Dermatologists are often the only health care professional patients with chronic skin conditions see, according to a study published in Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

“Approximately a quarter of patients that we see for chronic inflammatory skin diseases don’t have a consistent relationship with a primary care provider, and that’s often even higher in younger populations,” John S. Barbieri, MD, MBA, of the department of dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, told Healio.

The retrospective cohort study used Optum’s de-identified Clinformatics Data Mart Database to identify the number of patients who saw a dermatologist but did not have a regular relationship with a primary care provider in the year after seeing the dermatologist.

John S. Barbieri

Patients with psoriasis made up 71,857 members of the study group, with 5,407 having hidradenitis suppurativa, 238,647 having acne and 10,904 having alopecia areata.

Of the patients with psoriasis, 21.6% of men and 16.9% of women had no primary care visits within a year of their dermatologist visit. For those with hidradenitis suppurativa, 28.1% of men and 22% of women had no visits, 26.2% of women and 27.1% of men with acne had no visits, and 31.2% of men and 19.2% of women with alopecia areata had no visits.

In all skin disease 9.4% to 15.8% of men and 4.1% to 6.8% of women saw no other health care providers within that year.

“This is an important thing for dermatologists to keep in mind because many of our chronic inflammatory skin diseases are associated with important comorbid conditions,” Barbieri said.

Many individuals with these conditions also are at risk for depression, anxiety and cardiovascular disease, which would be monitored by a primary care provider. However, with patients not seeing primary care providers, dermatologists should be aware of and monitoring patients for these comorbidities.

This could include regular mental health and heart disease screenings, referrals to additional specialists or treating some issues.

“Given that these patients aren’t regularly interacting with a primary care provider, we should think about how we can improve the quality of care we provide by screening for associated comorbidities and potentially even managing them in collaboration,” Barbieri said.

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