In part one of a two-part interview, Urban Health Today spoke with Mirna Becevic, PhD, to address the challenges underserved communities face in accessing optimal dermatologic care. Dr. Becevic is a health informaticist who focuses on using telehealth to enhance access to care for rural and underserved communities.
Urban Health Today: Please provide us with some background on yourself, and your specialty.
Dr. Mirna Becevic: Okay. My name is Mirna Becevic, and I’m a health informaticist. I work at the University of Missouri Department of Dermatology, and I’m also lead evaluator for the Show-Me ECHO project with the Missouri Telehealth Network, which is also within the School of Medicine at MU.
How important is adequate dermatologic care? Are there any disadvantages that underserved communities face in achieving good skin care?
Of course, I’m happy to. There’s a couple of important numbers I would like to get across, I guess, when it comes to access to dermatologists. And this is something that we know from current literature, not necessarily from our study. But we know that about 45% of all patients in United States have difficulty accessing dermatologic care. They live in areas without adequate, quick, and appropriate access to dermatologists.
And we also know from the literature that about 65% of patients in United States seek care for their skin conditions with their primary care providers. So Project ECHO, Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes, Dermatology ECHO specifically, actually its objective is to reach out to those primary care providers that are treating patients without adequate access to specialty care and provide guidance and mentoring in both diagnosis and treatment. And we know that timely, accurate diagnosis and treatment reduces patient suffering and may save lives.