Eczema storyA new tool to help primary and secondary healthcare professionals improve eczema management for patients has been launched.

The TalkingEczema tool has been created to help healthcare professionals (HCPs) deliver more personalised and holistic consultations. The Tool addresses the physical and psychological impacts of the condition and can be used within the time constraints of a typical consultation. It has been funded and developed by Thornton & Ross Dermatology, the makers of Cetraben. The Tool was developed and tested by a panel of dermatology specialists.

The release coincides with this year’s National Eczema Week, which runs from September 17-25. The focus of this year’s event is on the psychological impact of the condition on patients, their families and carers.

The launch of the tool follows a recent survey of 500 HCPs – 250 GPs and 250 practice nurses – which found that just 4% were confident that the majority of their patients were using their emollient correctly. 

Dr Brian Malcolm, Community Dermatologist, committee member of the Primary Care Dermatology Society and former GP principal who helped develop and pilot the Tool, said: “Complete Emollient Therapy is the foundation for good eczema management but for this to be achieved, the patient has to be happy with the product they will be using, as well as to understand when, why and how to apply it. Delivering more personalised consultations through use of the TalkingEczema tool will help ensure more tailored treatment plans and better informed patients. Facilitating richer and more focused discussion during consultations to help empower patients to manage their condition was a fundamental aim in the development of the TalkingEczema tool and I’m confident the Tool can help make a big impact.”

The Tool encompasses a short, simple questionnaire that patients complete, either for themselves or on behalf of their child, which explores the physical and the psychological burden of the patient’s eczema on them and their family, as well as their attitudes towards their current treatment. The HCP then plots the results on a simple quadrant chart, which indicates the impact of the condition on the patient’s quality of life at that point in time, as well as how the patient is managing with their treatment. The questionnaire results, the patient positioning on the quadrant chart and the resulting discussion with the patient all help ensure a collaborative focus on agreeing practical solutions to improve outcomes. The TalkingEczema tool is suitable for use with people living with eczema of all ages across all healthcare settings.

Dr Tony Bewley, Consultant Dermatologist at Whipps Cross University Hospital, Barts and the London NHS Trust, who was instrumental in the development of the Tool, said: “It is well recognised that eczema is very variably managed throughout the healthcare environment. Dermatology does not have a high profile in the UK and despite atopic eczema being one of the most common conditions, and one that is increasing in prevalence, most healthcare professionals have received little training which can mean that patients’ needs may go unrecognised. The TalkingEczema tool can help fill this training gap by facilitating more targeted and holistic consultations to improve outcomes for eczema patients. This is particularly important as eczema can be overwhelming and devastating for patients, both in physical and psychological terms.”

Julie Van Onselen, specialist dermatology nurse, and a reviewer of the Tool, said: “The TalkingEczema tool is simple but still manages to address physical, psychological, psychosocial, and the educational and practical aspects of eczema management. This holistic approach is a unique feature of the TalkingEczema tool, which makes it stand apart from other currently available eczema tools. I believe the Tool will have tremendous benefits and it will help patients to feel that their healthcare professional really understands them and their eczema.” 

When tested in a pilot programme in primary and secondary care, the Tool was very well received by patients and healthcare professionals. In the pilot, 89% of patients felt the Tool helped them consider new options to improve how they manage their skin and 100% said they would recommend other eczema patients use the Tool in partnership with their healthcare professional. 

For more information on events taking place for National Eczema Week, click here