M.D. presents lay psoriasis seminar

February 1, 2005

Albany, Ga. — A rural dermatologist who treats several hundred patients with psoriasis —70 with biologics — has presented two one-hour community seminars about new treatments, and she plans to give more.

Albany, Ga. - A rural dermatologist who treats several hundred patients with psoriasis -70 with biologics - has presented two one-hour community seminars about new treatments, and she plans to give more.

"Some people have not heard about the new treatments," says Melinda Greenfield, D. O., a dermatologist in Albany, Ga. "I found that there is a lot of misinformation out there, and people who need the correct information about psoriasis are not getting it or are not seeking it." Dr. Greenfield held her second annual seminar at a local art museum on a Tuesday evening.

Dr. Greenfield began her presentation by describing psoriasis, the number of people affected by it and how the disease affects all aspects of peoples' lives. She summarized the traditional one-two-three approach to treatment - topicals, followed by light treatment and oral systemics - then described biologics and how they work.

"One person, a diabetic, asked about cost, if she needed to be on the treatment forever, and if the treatment would interfere with other medications," Dr. Greenfield says. "A few women were told by their hairdresser that they had psoriasis of the scalp, when they really had seborreic dermatitis. So I discussed the differences between psoriasis and seborreic dermatitis."

Another attendee, a patient of Dr. Greenfield's with 90 percent of her body covered, had stopped coming in for treatment because she lost her job and no longer had health insurance, Dr. Greenfield says.

"She asked what it costs for a biologic treatment. When I told her, she said she could never afford it. I told her about programs that companies offer to qualified people who cannot afford treatment. The patient came into my office the next day and asked how to apply for the program."

Dr. Greenfield's purpose in the seminar was to show people that the new biologic treatments offer hope for people with moderate to severe psoriasis.

"We have to erase the idea that these new treatments are dangerous, have unpleasant side effects and are hard to stick to," she says.

Dr. Greenfield spent 10 to 12 hours preparing for her seminar. A manufacturer of biologics for psoriasis provided photos of clinical trial patients, before and after treatment. The manufacturer also provided flyers and covered the costs for advertising, which began two weeks before the date of Dr. Greenfield's seminar.

"The people at the seminar seemed to be listening and interested," Dr. Greenfield says. "I think it's important to get out there as a doctor, especially in a small town. I also do a lot of education about skin cancer and sun protection for schools, bike clubs and church groups." A dermatologist could potentially consider a seminar as a way of recruiting psoriatic patients, she adds.

Dr. Greenfield plans to hold similar seminars twice a year rather than annually.

"I would start to advertise earlier than two weeks before the seminar," she says. "I would also get more media coverage and consider having the seminar on Saturday."

Dr. Greenfield offers two additional suggestions for dermatologists considering a seminar:

1. Present the information at a level that laypeople understand, but don't be too simplistic.

2. Show a lot of photos of people before and after treatment. (To avoid recognition or offending anyone, Dr. Greenfield recommends not using photos of your patients.)

"You can have a big impact and educate people in the region," she says. "That's one reason I love being out here, having that opportunity."

Dr. Greenfield says she will share her PowerPoint slides with any dermatologist willing to put on a seminar. She can be reached at (229) 883-1130. Her mailing address is Albany Dermatology, 426 2nd Ave, Albany, GA 31701.

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