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Keeping up with techno-evolution


National report ? Working with medical residents and students is a means of keeping pace with new technologies in dermatological practice for some clinicians.

"They get me hooked up with the technology I need," says Robert Brodell, M.D., a medical dermatologist in private practice and professor of internal medicine in the division of dermatology at Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, Rootstown, Ohio.

Welcome to cyberspace

The medical residents and medical students also have provided advice on the best digital cameras to buy, and the best photograph storage software, Dr. Brodell tells Dermatology Times.

"I don't understand how most of the technology works," Dr. Brodell says. "Change happens slowly because most of us feel inertia not to fix things that are not broken. However, it's hard to keep a good thing down. If you were to ask dermatologists if they used electronic mail 15 years ago, the answer was probably very few. I would venture to say that 95 percent now use electronic mail."

Managing the technology

He predicts that the practice of teledermatology will have wider uses for geographic areas that are underserved by dermatologists and in more specific situations.

"The main utility of teledermatology will be when there are no dermatologists in a 300-mile radius, and a primary care doctor needs help," Dr. Brodell says. "Another situation may be in seeing patients who are in prisons. I can see where a dermatologist or another physician who doesn't want to go into a prison can use teledermatology to review a patient's condition."

Computerized medical records are mostly helpful for billing purposes and auditing, Dr. Brodell notes.

The adoption of new technology comes with a large start-up cost, which can be offset through working in collaboration with area hospitals, Dr. Brodell explains.

"There are so many lasers that you can buy, and they are all very expensive," Dr. Brodell says. "Because they can become out of date and require maintenance, it's best to let the local hospital buy the lasers. The physician is paid a little less when using equipment at an outpatient surgery center, but that is appropriate since the practitioner saves the upfront investment."

Building education, contacts

To incorporate new clinical technologies such as lasers, fillers or skin products into one's practice, clinicians need to devote time to attending meetings and developing relationships with manufacturers of new technologies.

"You need to have a more global scope to your practice," says Neil Sadick, M.D., a dermatologist and clinical professor in the department of dermatology at Weill Medical College at Cornell University.

"You need to expose yourself to new arenas, such as research centers and clinical trials, and have the desire to be innovative. You need to keep up with literature and find out what is cutting edge. Getting involved with companies is a good way to get started."

Specifically, attending national meetings where there are representatives from large corporations exhibiting new products or products in the pipeline is a good entrance point, Dr. Sadick says.

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