The Importance of Patient Education in Atopic Dermatitis Management


Experts in dermatology stress the importance of patient education in atopic dermatitis management and discuss their approaches to keeping patients up-to date.

Raj Chovatiya, MD, PhD: You talked about staying up to date. Maybe that’s the last question that I’ll leave you on. I know it’s hard enough for all of us to keep on top of what’s going on. I can barely keep track of every new thing I hear about every day. Do you guys have thoughts on how we keep patients and caregivers up to date on emerging options? In my clinical practice, my patients love hearing about what’s coming, what we’re thinking about, and where things are headed. I don’t know if that’s discussion everyone else is having at their clinical encounters, but I imagine that when you give your patients a little insight in terms of what’s happening, they immediately latch on and want to know more. In many ways, it’s empowering knowing about their disease. I’ll start with you, Peter. Any thoughts on how you keep the patients and caregivers up to date?

Peter A. Lio, MD: It’s our biggest challenge. Even for us, staying up to date is hard, and then you’re trying to keep everybody on the same page. One thing we’re going to need to do is unfortunately we’re going to have to sift some of the wheat from the chaff. We see this. I follow a lot of podcasts and a lot of blogs, and I have all these interests. But when things get out of control and my schedule is going crazy, I quickly go through and say, “This doesn’t look that important. That doesn’t look that important.” I pick the ones that I want. It’s an embarrassment of riches, but we’re going to have to do that a little with atopic dermatitis. There are thousands of publications practically every month. We’re going to have to sort through. Groups like ICER—the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review—are cold and calculating, and I don’t necessarily love their approach, but I’m grateful for it when they hard-and -fast say this is the one that seems to work the best, these are the ones that are most economic. We can target our focus and attention, which is a finite resource. We don’t have the ability to learn about everything.

It’s also going to happen from us too. We’re going to have to learn these things the hard way, and then hopefully we can pass on our wisdom to our colleagues so they don’t have to go through it. A word to the wise should be sufficient. We can say, “This one is probably not worth your time. This seems to be the better approach.” That’s not perfect. We’d love for everything to be balanced and equal and potentially have opportunity, but there isn’t enough time for everyone to explore every option.

Raj Chovatiya, MD, PhD: How about you, Brit? Same question. How do you foresee, or in your own best practice, keeping patients and giving up to date on everything that’s happening?

Brittany G. Craiglow, MD: I agree. It’s tough. I learned today from you guys, and I like to think that I’m fairly up to date. It’s hard, especially if you’re more of a generalist, you’re seeing a million things all day, and you don’t have a ton of patients with atopic dermatitis. For us, it’s nice for patients to hear that people care about the disease they have and that we’re working on it and constantly refining treatments. Hope is a very powerful thing and really important for people. Even in diseases where we don’t have as many options, letting people know there’s stuff in the pipeline, we’re moving, keep your eye on the news. These things, if they do well, tend to make a splash. For us and our colleagues, watching things like this, going to meetings, and looking at the throwaways, all those things can be helpful.

If you have a patient and you’re stuck, that’s a time when you learn. If I have someone and I feel as if I’ve reached the end of my options going through the literature, doing a PubMed search or seeing if there’s anything new or if there’s a report [is helpful]. When you can tie your knowledge to a patient that it sticks. We remember from med school and residency, when you had a patient with a certain disease, all of a sudden you remember it. If we’re caring about our patients and we’re striving to always do our best by them, then if there’s something you don’t know about and it would benefit your patient, you’re probably going to find it if you’re looking. If your patients are doing well, cool. But if you have someone who you’re stuck on, maybe phone a friend or ask Google, and you can get information.

Raj Chovatiya, MD, PhD: You highlighted one important thing. In the age we live in, everyone wants digital content, everyone wants social media, people want things that are short, people want stuff that gets to the point. Discussions like this help our providers. One can envision similar things with patients and caregivers to give them a voice, give them evidence-based solutions, and go away from some of the mixed evidence-based stuff out there, in terms of conventional social media outlets, that we sometimes have to deal with when patients come to our offices.

It’s rare that a TikTok [video] makes people come in for the right reasons. I’ve had it happen before, but sometimes it’s very mixed. Bottom line is that thinking about ways that outside the office we can increase the education of everyone coming in is going to make that discussion much richer and empower our patients and caregivers.

On that note, that brings us to the end. Dr Brittany Craiglow and Dr Peter Lio are superstars. Thank you so much for this informative discussion. It’s been a pleasure to spend this time with you guys, and I thank you all for watching this HCPLive® Peer Exchange. If you enjoyed the content, and I know you did, please subscribe to our e-newsletters to receive upcoming Peer Exchanges and other great content right in your inbox. Thanks again.

Transcript edited for clarity

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