Who is this information for?
This information is for all patients, their family and / or carers who are invited to attend a ‘teledermatology’ clinic appointment organised by Addenbrooke’s Hospital. This information answers common questions about the teledermatology service. If you would like further information, or have any particular worries, please do not hesitate to speak to your nurse or doctor.
What is teledermatology?
Teledermatology is the use of a special high-quality camera to take photographs of your skin problem. Your photographs will be reviewed by a consultant dermatologist who will decide if you need to be seen at a clinic or whether you should receive a management plan by post or a telephone consultation.
Only lesions stated on your GP referral letter will be photographed – this service is not for whole body skin checks. If there are additional lesions you would like to be assessed, you would need to raise this with your GP.
How does a teledermatology clinic appointment work?
You will attend a medical photography clinic appointment in the community in order to have a photograph taken of the lesion as referred by your GP. The photographs and any other documentation will be transferred electronically to a consultant dermatologist, along with the referral letter from your GP and your assessment form. After attending your medical photography appointment, the doctor will then carefully review your photographs and assess whether you need to be seen again or not. They will be able to decide on the best course of action, in the same way as if you had been seen in the hospital clinic.
What happens at my appointment?
Before your appointment, please complete the questionnaire provided with this letter and bring it with you. This assessment form asks questions about your lesion along with your general health and medical history which will be used in conjunction with the letter from your GP and the photographs to make an assessment and potential treatment plan. When you arrive at the clinic, (please see location details below) reception staff will direct you to the correct waiting area where the medical photographer will greet you. The photographer will then explain what they are going to do, which includes obtaining your consent and taking the relevant photographs of your skin. Please remove jewellery if it is in the same area as the lesion.
What happens after my appointment?
For some patients, the doctor will be able to diagnose your problem, provide reassurance and write and discharge you back to your GP with a treatment plan for your condition. Sometimes, the consultant may decide that you do need to be seen in person or that you need a biopsy (a small piece of skin is taken and sent to a laboratory for diagnosis) or an excision of the lesion. If this is the case, you will be contacted and offered an appointment. This will take place in Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
The doctor who reviews your photographs will write to you and your GP with the management plan, so you are always kept up to date with what is happening with your care. In some cases, the consultant will issue an electronic prescription which will be available for you to collect from Addenbrooke’s Hospital, or a letter will be sent asking your GP to issue this prescription. This will usually be within four weeks of seeing the medical photographer. You will be sent an outcome letter, copied to your GP. If the contents of this letter are unclear, please contact us to request clarification.
If there are any concerning findings or if a further discussion is required, you may be contacted by phone or letter sooner. You will receive a copy of the consultant’s letter, which will explain what action, if any, you need to take next. The actions may include:
- Face-to-face appointment - If you need to be seen face-to-face, we will contact you to offer you an appointment.
- Surgical treatment - If the consultant advises you to have a surgical procedure, they will put you on the waiting list and you will be telephoned separately by the surgical booking team. Due to the current pandemic restrictions, we are experiencing significantly longer waits for routine surgery. The contact number for the surgical booking line is at the bottom of this document. However, they will call you once there is availability.
- Treatment at GP - It may be that you don’t need to be seen in hospital but will be managed by your GP. If this is the case, it will be clearly stated in the letter. It is very important that if the letter says this, you call your GP practice and make the appointment so that your treatment, if any, can be started.
- No further action - It could be that there is no further action needed, in which case you only need to go back and see your GP if you are worried.
- Prescription issued - In some cases, the consultant will issue an electronic prescription which will be available for you to collect from Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Q. Does the consultant dermatologist have to see my skin problem in person in order to identify what is wrong?
A. No. The photographs are high quality and taken by professional photographers. However, if the consultant has any uncertainty about the diagnosis, they will ask to see you in a face-to-face consultation.
Q. Is this a safe service?
A. Yes, this service is safe. It is already provided in many areas of the country and is an excellent way of helping patients be seen more quickly than at present without losing any quality in the care received.
Q. What if the treatment doesn’t work?
A. If there is a degree of uncertainty about the diagnosis then you may be offered a patient-initiated follow-up appointment in case the treatment fails. If the diagnosis is clear and the treatment expected to be effective, then you will need to speak to your GP about a new referral. This is the same process that would take place in a face-to-face consultation.
Q. What happens if I am discharged, and I have further questions?
A. The letter and any attached information leaflets will contain key information relevant to your diagnosis. If you have been discharged, then it is because your condition is benign and no treatment is required / available. If there are still concerns then these can be discussed with your GP, who can contact the dermatology team if necessary.
Q. What if I have other lesions that I need reviewing?
A. Please contact your GP to discuss additional lesions. If your GP has referred you for a full skin examination then you will not be offered an appointment under this service.
Locations of appointment
You will be invited either to Huntingdon Road Surgery or to Granta Sawston Medical Practice for your teledermatology appointment.
Huntingdon Road Surgery
1 Huntingdon Road
Free parking is available at the back of the practice.
Granta Sawston Medical Centre
Free parking at front of practice. Reception staff will direct you to the waiting area for teledermatology, located on the first floor.
Contacts / Further information
We are smoke-free
Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.
Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998. www.cuh.nhs.uk/contact-us/accessible-information/
Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge
Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151