Hospital using ‘Photo Triage’

The Plastic Surgery Department at Roscommon University Hospital has been using a ‘photo triage’ process to identify patients who require an urgent consultation, to replace face-to-face consultations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Deidre Jones, Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon said: “When our ‘See and Treat’ skin cancer clinics were suspended due to Covid-19, we set up a new pathway to identify patients who required urgent consultation.

“By telephoning patients directly, asking them a few key questions and requesting that they email a good quality photograph of their skin lesion to a secure and dedicated email address, we have been able to photo triage over 400 patients in the past few months.

“The patients can either take the photo themselves or ask a family member to take the photo for them. We have been surprised at how many patients – of all ages – have been able to send us high quality photos.

“Using this process we are able to identify patients who need to be brought in for a procedure which helps to reduce the movement of patients into the hospital.

“As we start to reintroduce services to the hospital, it will no longer be possible to have large numbers of patients attending our clinics due to social distancing and infection control requirements. We plan to continue with and refine the photo triage process because it is so convenient for patients and will allow us to continue to prioritise those who need to be seen urgently first”.