Health care providers may be missing opportunities to improve symptoms among their patients with psoriasis, according to findings from a study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.
Scheduling a follow-up visit one to two weeks after the patient’s initial visit could be useful because symptom improvement with medications can appear in as little as seven days. Despite this, the researchers found only about 20% of patients with psoriasis were seen by their health care provider for follow-up within that time frame.
After analyzing data from 32,375 patients with psoriasis taken from the 2003-2007 MarketScan Medicaid database, Scott A. Davis, MA, of Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues characterized the timing of first follow-up visits.
The mean length of time to the first follow-up visit after diagnosis was 153 days for adults and 142 days for children with psoriasis. The researchers also reviewed the data for patients with acne or eczema.
Mean length of time for adults with acne was 151 days for adults and 218 days for children. Mean time until follow-up for adults with atopic dermatitis was 161 days and 209 days for children.
White patients were more likely than patients of other races to have early follow-up in psoriasis and acne, reported the investigators. In contrast, whites with atopic dermatitis were less likely than other races to have early follow-up. Dermatologists were more likely to schedule early follow-up visits than non-dermatologists.
“Most physicians are missing the opportunity to maximize patient adherence by scheduling early follow-up visits. Contact by email or phone may be beneficial for physicians who cannot schedule early follow-up,” the researchers concluded.
Generalizability of these results may be limited, according to the researchers, because the database included only Medicaid patients. The rate of non-attendance at scheduled visits could not be determined.