As skin conditions take up an increasing amount of GP time, we believe, from the perspective of a medical communications agency, that better communications should become part of the cure.
In the UK, it’s estimated that 54% of the population is affected by skin disease¹. In fact, 13 million GP consultations per year¹ are about skin conditions, placing them among the most common diseases encountered by healthcare professionals today.
While these numbers should prick the ears of dermatology brand managers, they are hardly surprising when you consider the visible and chronic nature of diseases such as eczema, actinic keratosis and psoriasis.
Meeting the need
Over a 5-year period from 2007/8, the number of GP referrals for dermatology increased by 15.5%¹, putting pressure on the system. Plus, as the King’s Fund highlights, there is a need to address:
- Growing patient expectations
- Inconsistent quality in diagnosis and treatment (particularly within primary care)
- Large variations in access to specialist care
- Issues with patient experience
- Shortages, and an uneven distribution, of senior medical and nursing staff
However, primary care also offers some of the greatest opportunities for improving quality of care for people with skin conditions – and these are opportunities that brands can support.
Let’s be clear
In order to reinforce the great work that healthcare professionals do and ensure long-term compliance with treatment plans, patients need effective and engaging communications – literature that’s interesting to read, accessible and clear.
In other sectors, there are companies already providing this service to great effect, a few of which I’ve outlined below:
Astellas Pharma created this website specifically for transplant recipients – yes, even in anti-rejection therapy, patients can fail to comply to their medication. It includes a medication schedule, details on the types of drugs patients might be prescribed and tips on how to stay healthy.
Schizophrenia patients can be a very challenging group to reach and engage, so Janssen Pharmaceutica created a website dedicated to offering the support patients need – real stories, information about medications and advice on how to obtain a treatment plan.
Johnson & Johnson has made it easier than ever to care for the whole family with a one-stop website dedicated to their entire product range. It includes printable coupons, advice and tools, and information on upcoming products.
If dermatology brands take inspiration from these sectors and create useful tools and spaces where patients can get the information and support they need, there is the potential to alleviate the pressure on primary care, support adherence to treatment plans and empower patients to self-care.
At Create Health, being a medical communications agency, we believe that achieving improvements in the lives of dermatology patients will require dedication, investment and partnership. Our team is currently focussed on supporting dermatology businesses with this challenge – if you’re one of them, let’s talk.
1. The King’s Fund. How can dermatology services meet current and future patient needs, while ensuring quality of care is not compromised and access is equitable across the UK? (2014)