Care Collaboration in Atopic Dermatitis


Experts in dermatology discuss patient education and clinical pearls to assist colleagues in the management of atopic dermatitis.

Margaret Bobonich, DNP, FNP-C, DCNP, FAANP: What do we do? How can we assist our colleagues in helping them look at one, how do we choose therapies, and when do we collaborate and refer these patients, and what kind of patient education can we provide for these patients?

Douglas DiRuggiero, DMSc, PA-C: Well, I think just to kind of bring this all the way back around, first off an accurate diagnosis always leads to successful treatments. So, make the diagnosis. Familiarize yourself with the different presentations of atopic dermatitis and the neonate versus the toddler versus the teen versus the elderly. And I think have a high clinical index of suspicion. If it is coming back, if it is very pruritic, if it’s life-altering, even if it doesn’t look like classic atopic dermatitis, it likely is a phenotypic presentation of that even if it’s not what’s inside your dermatology textbook. So, get the right diagnosis because the right diagnosis will then lead you to begin to move into the more, what I call the empathic side of treating this How is this impacting your life? How would your life change, how are the treatments that you’ve been using working? And so, begin that dialogue with patients and just kind of let them open up a little bit. It doesn’t have to be two-hour long visits for them to really feel like why this is different than other people have seen. Just asking a few questions lets them know that you're into the diagnosis, that you're not just going to run for a cream and send them out the door, and that you can make a difference. And if you don’t have that time to really tell them everything; you're not going to unload everything on the first visit. Tell them about comorbidities, tell them about every single systemic option, you're going to get their acute flare under control with topicals. And then you're going to bring them back in, you're going to earn their trust, you're going to continue to talk to them about it, and then you're going to begin – I’m always introducing non-steroidal options to patients right up front. If I feel like I have to use a topical steroid to calm it down – I may not need to once we get this new topical JAK out but I’m always introducing the idea of us moving off the topical steroids. I don’t use them much but systemics onto these new treatments. So it’s kind of a progressive revelation of talking to them about the disease, what you believe it is, how you want to open up the box and let them know that you know how this impacts you and the family, that we’ve got good treatments out there, we’re going to start off with this, but it’s important for me to see you back because we want to look into other treatments that are on the horizon that can control this for long periods of time without having to lead the anxiety about when am I going to break out next time. 

Margaret Bobonich, DNP, FNP-C, DCNP, FAANP: You know I think you summarized it very well Doug. I think it’s exciting where we’ve been and where we’re going. We don’t have to use systemic agents with these high toxicities that are really rescue agents, like the cyclosporine. We have choices now. And letting the patients know that and one of the interesting things is I’ve heard people say well that’s an injection. But guess what, let’s let our patients make that choice. Let’s give a fair representation of all the treatment options that we have and the ones that are coming because the truth is that an injection may be nothing compared to the quality of life that atopic dermatitis is having on these patients. A lot more to come for us especially our adult, some of the newer agents will be anticipated FDA-approved for adults. Some of the resources you like to give your patients Doug, what are they? 

Douglas DiRuggiero, DMSc, PA-C: Well certainly the National Eczema Association, the NEA, I think is an excellent resource with information about clinical trials that we may have mentioned in this presentation, great patient support, practical data that’s there, practical recommendations on bathing and moisturizing. I really, really like the NEA as a great resource. Do you have others? 

Margaret Bobonich, DNP, FNP-C, DCNP, FAANP: The National Eczema Foundation is my choice. But I think as far as resources for you as clinicians, I think one of the best ammunitions I would have for you is if you're in primary care or if you're in derm and you're not comfortable with prescribing some of these agents that are here now or the newer ones that we anticipate that will be FDA-approved in the near future, if you're not comfortable, reach out to a local dermatologist or dermatology NPPA and let us help you. One, we’ll help you with that patient and supporting them and getting them the best treatment and optimal outcomes, but also to help you learn about it. We really, really want to support you as colleagues and that’s my suggestion. Any last words Doug? 

Douglas DiRuggiero, DMSc, PA-C: I just want to echo that. You know the study is a few years old, but it showed that only 19 percent of patients with severe atopic dermatitis got referred from primary care to dermatology. I think that’s improved, especially with some of the commercials that have been out about eczema and dupilumab’s campaigns. But we just want to say that this is – our medicine is a collaborative effort. We’re not living in silos here. We want to – we in dermatology want to partner with our primary care providers, we want to partner with our allergy specialists, we want to partner with the folks that are going to help us out too. I want to tell Margaret, you're helping your patients and you're helping yourself because these folks are living with infections, they’re living with scratching, they’re living with anxiety and depression. And we now have treatments out there that can radically change and improve that. So that’s the biggest message of today’s time together is that there is help out there, that we can get these medicines covered by most insurances, and that they can really change patients’ lives. 

Margaret Bobonich, DNP, FNP-C, DCNP, FAANP: Thank you so much Professor Doug. This is why we call him Professor Doug. And thank you so much. Thank you for watching HCP Live® Peers and Perspectives. If you’ve enjoyed this content, please subscribe to our newsletters to receive the upcoming programs and great content right in your inbox. So thank you everyone. Be safe and live well.

Transcript Edited for Clarity

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