The shifts in health care delivery have led to shorter visits, which can leave less time for patient counseling. Today’s patients, however, have ready access to more information via the Internet, social platforms, and mobile apps than patients in the past. The variable and unvetted quality of that information is concerning.
Cohen et al provide a model for how physicians can work to provide reliable educational resources for their patients via a mobile app. Bhatia points out that the underutilization of mobile devices for patient education and patient-physician communication represents a practice gap, and it behooves dermatologists to step in and fill this gap.
The JAMA network, including JAMA Dermatology, offers the Patient Page to provide essential, credible information about common and obscure medical conditions from experts in the field. This content is free and accessible at all times. Since beginning quarterly publication of the JAMA Dermatology Patient Page in 2013, those pages have been viewed a combined total of 5094 times on the JAMA Dermatology website as of December 12, 2013. The morphea page1 alone has reached 957 people via Facebook and has received 60 likes, comments, and shares. We provide accurate education about dermatologic diseases to guide our patients with diseases like morphea who are at high risk of stumbling across misinformation on the Internet about systemic sclerosis that could cause increased anxiety and unnecessary fear. One of our core roles as physicians is to serve as teachers, for our students, our colleagues, and first and foremost for our patients. The Patient Page is a step along that path, but as Bhatia suggests, the mobile apps represent a way for dermatologists to educate their patients.
Rosenbach M. The Patient PageReaching Patients With Essential Information. JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(6):662-663. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.10409