Newswise — The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has named board-certified dermatologist Kari Lyn Martin, MD, FAAD, a Patient Care Hero for using telemedicine to diagnose and remove a patient’s melanoma the same day.

Concerned about a mole that had changed shape and color, Donna Randall met with her primary care physician who sent an image of the mole using a telemedicine platform to Dr. Martin, located an hour away at University of Missouri Health Care in Columbia, Mo. Dr. Martin recognized the serious nature of the mole and asked Donna to come to her office in Columbia immediately. Dr. Martin and a colleague removed the mole later that morning, which a biopsy confirmed to be melanoma.

While melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, the five-year survival rate is 99 percent if detected early. If melanoma spreads to distant organs, the five-year survival rate drops to 25 percent.

“Going from a teledermatology diagnosis to surgery in just three hours is a remarkable thing. I can’t thank Dr. Martin and her colleagues enough for working together so seamlessly to provide this necessary care,” said Donna. “In our town, many don’t have access to transportation or are otherwise unable to travel to see specialists. With the growth of telemedicine and teledermatology, it’s easier than ever to get help and treatment.”

The University of Missouri Dermatology Department has used teledermatology for more than 20 years to care for patients from across Missouri, many of whom have limited access to specialists due to their rural locations. Telemedicine is particularly important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, as only patients with the most urgent and essential conditions are being handled in-person, with the remainder triaged virtually. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. Martin’s practice has experienced a surge in the volume of teledermatology patient consultations.

“Before COVID-19, teledermatology was a nice option to have for patients like Donna who lived a long distance from Columbia. Now, it is a critical part of our mission,” said Dr. Martin. “We can continue to provide excellent quality care for patients and manage acute and chronic skin disease while protecting the public health of Missouri at large.”

The AAD created the Patient Care Heroes program to recognize physicians who transform patients’ lives by utilizing their expertise and collaborating with other physicians to treat serious skin disease.

“Dermatologists have long been leaders in telemedicine, and we’re proud to see how quickly we have adapted during this pandemic,” said board-certified dermatologist Bruce H. Thiers, MD, FAAD, president of the AAD. “When we leverage these technologies, we not only provide safe, effective and flexible patient care, but we make the world a little safer for those outside our practices as well.”

To learn more about the work of Dr. Martin, visit https://www.aad.org/skinserious/stories-donna-randall.

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