Any person living with eczema can tell you it’s more than just an irritating rash.
Patients may have difficulty sleeping due to itchiness, leading to a vicious cycle of scratching that leads to more inflammation, which leads to more itching and causes more loss of sleep.
Eczema is also associated with life-threatening conditions like heart disease and diabetes, as well as mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Treating eczema often requires a multidisciplinary approach that involves allergists, neurologists and sleep specialists, in addition to board-certified dermatologists like me.
Previously, my patients were seeing four or more different physicians, resulting in mixed messages and conflicting care plans.
To combat this problem, I founded the Northwestern Medicine Multidisciplinary Eczema Center, which brings all specialists who treat eczema under one roof.
Now, patients come in for a single appointment that lasts two to three hours. The coordinated visit allows different physicians to confer and develop the best comprehensive treatment approach to address all the patient’s symptoms.
This type of teamwork leads to better and more comprehensive care — not to mention an improved patient experience.
Creating the multidisciplinary clinic took time, patience and significant collaboration, but it’s rewarding for both the participating physicians and their patients. This is the future of eczema care.
Jonathan Silverberg, MD, PhD, MPH, FAAD, is a dermatologist and director of the Northwestern Medicine Multidisciplinary Eczema Center in Chicago.