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Dermatology Online Journal

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How the Internet is Becoming Essential to the Profession

  • Author(s): Huntley, Arthur C., MD
  • et al.
Main Content

The Internet, World Wide Web, and the Practice of Dermatology
How the Internet is Becoming Essential to the Profession
Arthur C. Huntley M.D.
Dermatology Online Journal Volume 2 Number 1: 10


The Internet is becoming increasingly important to the practice of dermatology. It is proving to be a more efficient method of dissemination and retrieval of information. This discussion will cover the commercial, reference, educational, and patient information efforts.

Commercial Aspects for the Practitioner

finding resources for the practice
providing information about you
?selling dermatologic products
  • finding resources for the practice
    The use of the Web for obtaining equipment and supplies for the office is likely to become increasingly common. As more commercial services develop WWW pages, shopping for equipment and supplies on-line is likely to become easier than the traditional method. Suppliers should find the cost of doing business via the Web to be relatively inexpensive, compared to conventional marketing, making it possible to offer lower prices. Search engines allow one to find more than one source for a given item, and to do comparison shopping. Thus the Web is likely to develop into a source of supplies that is both convenient and price competitive.
  • providing others information about you
    The Web may be one of the best places to provide others with information about you and your practice. Photographs of you and of the people that work with you, along with notes of importance are easily posted. Your curriculum vitae or other formal information may be included. A description of services, complete with photographs, is easy to provide. This may be especially important for cosmetic surgeons who wish to illustrate outcomes And why limit the description of your location to an address, when you may also provide a full map and images of your building.
  • ?selling dermatologic products
    Whether or not a dermatologist should advertise or sell cosmetic preparations is beyond the scope of this discussion. However, for one so inclined, the Web offers unparalleled opportunities to reach potential customers.

Reference Material

Medline
drug reaction database
PDR-like resources
RxDerm-Archives
  • Medline
    One of the strong points of computers is the ability to retrieve information from a reference database. Perhaps the best example of this for medicine is the Medline database. Searches of the recent medical literature, a slow and difficult process with Index Medicus, are now routinely performed in minutes. In addition, the abstracts in the Medline database often provide access to enough information to be used to explore treatment options, and even to build a differential diagnosis.
  • Drug reaction database
    The Drug Reaction Database, a CD-ROM publication of Jerome Litt MD is also available on the Web. This outstanding practice resource is best utilized when trying to determine the drug or drugs likely responsible for given skin findings.
  • PDR-like resources
    Worthy of mention is the current effort to put pharmaceutical information on-line, allowing fast access to such items as treatment guidelines and warnings.
  • RxDerm-Archives
    RxDerm-Archives is the collected discussions of the e-mail discussion list, RxDerm-L. This group, with over 300 members limited to dermatologists and dermatology residents, generated more than 1600 messages last year . The discussions are archived by disease, and the database has a search engine.

Education

Global Dermatology Grand Rounds
Atlases of Dermatology
Dermatology Online Journal
Academic institutions and educators were among the first to gain access to the Internet and the World Wide Web. Medical education material, as traditionally written for books and journals, has a difficult transition to the Internet. It is more difficult to read and extract pertinent material from a computer screen. On the other hand, there are fewer limitations to illustration and inclusion of additional material on the Net.

  • Global Dermatology Grand Rounds
    Global Dermatology Grand Rounds, a concept developed by Rhett Drugge MD, is the presentation of a clinical unknown. The submitted cases have been well illustrated and interesting.
  • Atlases of Dermatology
    Many dermatologists photograph the unusual lesions of their patients, and slide collections are common. The World Wide Web allows sharing of images and case reports. Examples of this type include the DERMATOLOGY & RHEUMATOLOGY , and the Project Dermatology Online Atlas (DOIA). Image quality is generally excellent, even though compression is necessary to allow for storage and transfer.
  • Dermatology Online Journal
    Dermatology Online Journal is an educational journal which seeks to develop a publishing paradigm more fitting to the Web. Articles may contain hundreds of images, moving images, links to other work, and alternative forms of presentation.

Discussions

access by patients
chat with colleagues: RxDerm-L
  • Access by patients
    E-mail is a new tool for communication with patients and colleagues. Some practitioners are now encouraging patients to contact them through this channel. E-mail has the advantage of being less interrupting than the telephone, and can make the practitioner more accessible.
  • RxDerm-L: chat with colleagues
    The world dermatology community is gradually becoming connected electronically and conversing. One of the current discussion groups, RxDerm-L, exists to deal with treatment options for skin disease. In addition to generating the RxDerm Archives, the discussion is often used for current consultation with colleagues. (achuntley@ucdavis.edu)

Public Service

newsgroups
AAD information
  • newsgroups
    Educational material for the lay public is another developing area on the Net. The newsgroup med.sci frequently has dermatology questions, and responses are sometimes provided by members of the dermatology community.