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Dermatology Photo Triage Pathway

Dermatology Photo Triage Pathway

The Dermatology Photo Triage Pathway will significantly speed up the process of identifying and treating suspicious moles or skin irregularities.

Rather than referring a patient for an outpatient appointment, digital images are taken in the GP practice and sent directly to a dermatologist, who then decides whether the patient needs further assessment.

The initiative gives patients with suspected skin cancer access to a rapid, high quality consultant assessment.

Approximately half of all dermatology referrals are for the diagnosis and management of skin cancer. There are in excess of 50,000 dermatology referrals annually across Northern Ireland.

The pathway was initially launched in 2018 as a Pilot in the Mid Ulster and South Belfast Federation Areas and following approval of the business case by the Department of Health work has commenced with a regional expansion across all GP Practices in Northern Ireland to be completed by March 22.

Roll-out dates:

  • Phase 1: November 2021 – Causeway, Mid Ulster and South Belfast
  • Phase 2: November / December 2021 – North Down, South West and Craigavon
  • Phase 3: December /January 2022 – West Belfast, Derry and Down
  • Phase 4: January / February 2022 – Lisburn, Armagh and East Antrim
  • Phase 5: February / March 2022 – North Belfast and Antrim Ballymena
  • Phase 6: March 2022 – Newry, Ards and East Belfast

The service

Your GP will use a device with camera attachment to take pictures of your skin irregularity or mole at your initial appointment. You will be asked to give your consent for the images to be taken.

The images are then sent electronically to a skin specialist (Dermatology Consultant) at a hospital.

It is important to note that at any point along this pathway, if your skin complaint is suspected of being a possible cancer or requires other urgent treatment, you will be managed through the urgent cancer “red flag” pathway instead.

Your GP will advise you at your initial appointment if you have been referred via this ‘red flag’ pathway.

The technology

The GP will use an iPod featuring a compatible polarized light examination device – to capture images of the skin irregularity.

The ipod is preloaded with the SmartDerm App.  Images will be automatically transferred from the App to the Practice server. Following transfer the images are automatically removed from the portable device.

All practices will be offered training on the use of the hardware and App required to make a referral via the Photo Triage Pathway.