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Ashley Crew, MD: The Intersection of Dermatology and Rheumatology

How the 2 specialties play a role in each other.

Rheumatologists and dermatologists can work together to improve patient care.

When a joint decision-making model is instilled, or if a rheumatologist and dermatologist are working closely together, they are able to synthesize the same clinical information and can make a decision on which therapy is best suited for a patient.

Still, the relationship can be bi-directional, with rheumatologists and dermatologists either working hand-in-hand from the jump of a patient’s care, or a rheumatologist deciding during the treatment journey of a patient to consult with a dermatologist about what the best decision might be.

“I think diagnostically we help each other a lot,” Ashley Crew, MD, of Keck Medicine of USC, said in a recent interview with HCPLive®. Crew, a dermatologist, said such specialists have easy access to tissue, so if there are diagnostic troubles, they can take a biopsy to solidify or overturn a diagnosis. Dermatologists are trained to identify certain patterns in the skin to help diagnose.

On the other hand, dermatologists rely on their rheumatology colleagues to complete the clinical picture as far as other systemic manifestations.

“Diagnostically we can help each other quite a bit, but I also think therapeutically and in medical decision-making, we can be a really good team too,” Crew said.