hen Arthur Brisbane said in 1911 that a picture is “worth a thousand words,” he probably could not have imagined the range of photo capturing options that would exist today. As discussed in this month's “Business Advisor” (p. 14), good photos are essential tools for both clinical and cosmetic practices. Forget words; Quality images could be worth thousands of dollars. Showcasing good before and after images from a cosmetic intervention could encourage other potential patients to seek your services, bringing revenue directly to the practice. The ability to monitor a suspicious lesion through serial photographs could mean the difference between early, cost-effective, and successful management or time-consuming and increasingly complex interventions. Finally, when questions arise about an initial diagnosis or outcomes of treatment, a high-quality baseline image can reassure patients and avoid possible legal actions.
The best thing about clinical photography is that it is relatively inexpensive. Quality equipment can be purchased for less than a thousand dollars. And with today's digital technology, there are no photo development fees. In fact, a significant proportion of images will be digitally archived and not printed. An investment in appropriate clinical photography equipment is wise for any practice.
Of course, standard photography is just the tip of the imaging iceberg. As described in our “Dermatology Q&A” (p. 50), Optical Coherence Tomography now allows dermatologists to visualize and capture images of the skin to depths of 1mm or more. And in “Take Five” (p. 56, we highlight promising new data for a multi-spectral computer vision system that can help clinicians detect melanomas more readily than they can with the naked eye.
And then there's digital video, which has the potential to impact the practice of dermatology. Like standard photography equipment, digital video equipment has become quite affordable lately, even as the technology continues to evolve. Recognizing that digital video facilitates the exchange of ideas and information between clinicians, we launched the professional video file-sharing website DermTube (DermTube.com). Recording video and posting it for peers is an ideal way for those who practice dermatology to share pearls, demonstrate new procedures and techniques, and explain the best ways to treat patients and manage their practices. If you haven't already visited DermTube, take a moment to visit the site, and consider posting some videos of your own.