Where is the best place to buy skincare products?

Protect your skin with genuine products from your doctor.

The short answer is your dermatologist’s office. Buying skincare products from your doctor guarantees you are getting the products you need for your skin and those products are authentic.

With the ubiquity of online shopping, you can now find almost any skincare product on dozens of websites. Many of these websites are legitimate businesses with professional standards. Many are not. These sites may offer free shipping or a money-back guarantee to trick you into thinking they are legitimate but the products they ship can be counterfeit, stolen, or expired.

A quick Google search will yield hundreds of horror stories of patients duped into buying and using illegitimate products they thought were real. The consequences range from mild burning to lasting injuries.

Buying products from your doctor’s office used to be very inconvenient. The good news is the inconvenience of buying skincare products from your doctor is a thing of the past.

If your doctor uses HealthLens, you can now buy all the products they carry in their office on HealthLens. Every order comes with free shipping and sales tax is included in the product’s price. It’s the convenience of online shopping but with the personalization of a 1-on-1 consult with your skincare specialist.

Go to HealthLens.com today to visit your doctor online and buy the products you need.

Protect Your Skin This Winter with 6 Easy Skin Care Tips

Winter road surrounded by snow covered trees.
Make sure to protect your skin this winter with some easy tips.

As the days get shorter and colder, your skin is very susceptible to the changes in the environment and can damage easily. Here are 6 easy skin care tips that should help you and your skin survive this winter.

6. Moisturize More

As the seasons change, your skin care products may need to change as well. Your skin dries out very easily in cold weather. Consider upgrading from a moisturizing lotion to an oil-based ointment. The ointment will help seal in more moisture than a lotion.

5. Stay Hydrated

Just because it’s not 85 degrees out anymore does not mean you should cut back on your water intake. When it’s cold outside, it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated. Dehydration affects your whole body, not just your skin so your whole body will benefit from maintaining adequate hydration.

4. No Super Hot Showers

Nothing feels more soothing than a long hot shower on a cold winter morning. While this may feel great, the prolonged exposure to hot water depletes your skin of essential lipids and oils that maintain your skin’s moisture naturally. In lieu of a long, hot shower, consider a quick, warm one.

3. Exercise

Bundling up in your coziest sweats and spending the day on the couch under a blanket is a fantastic way to spend a cold winter day, but don’t forget your exercise. Exercise is not only a great way to stay in shape, but sweating clears your pores and improves blood circulation, which helps deliver essential nutrients to your skin.

2. Don’t Forget Your Sunscreen

Like staying hydrated, using sunscreen is not just a summer sport. Sunscreen is one of the best ways to protect your skin. Most moisturizers already have sunscreen in them so make sure to choose one with a high SPF rating and apply it before you head out in the sun. Furthermore, ski slopes are a hotbed for sunburns. When you’re hitting the slopes this season, make sure to be wearing more protection on your head than just a helmet.

1. Visit a Dermatologist

Nobody has better skin care tips than your skin care specialist. Make sure to visit your dermatologist this winter for the latest recommendations. If you’re too busy to make into their office, try visiting your dermatologist online with HealthLens and create the perfect treatment plan for the winter.

Telemedicine for Everyone

stethoscope laying down
The tools doctors use every day are changing. Is the smartphone replacing the stethoscope?

As a dermatologist, the possibilities of telemedicine were evident early in my career.  You did not need a patient to make a diagnosis. You just needed a good picture.

Telemedicine was initially promoted as a benefit to patients. It would increase their access to specialty care and surmount geographic barriers. Unfortunately, the only reimbursed format at the time was live interactive video, which was too impractical for widespread use. Patients also had limited access to the technology. Telemedicine languished.  

During this dark time, I was involved with a few unsuccessful start-up telemedicine platforms that focused on direct patient access to specialists. There was a lot learned from the experience but there were no compelling reasons for physicians to adopt the practice.

That changed 2012 when California’s own telehealth law (AB 415) went into effect. Now physicians of all specialties would be beneficiaries of telemedicine. The new law authorized physicians to collect for all forms of electronic interaction. This means you could now be reimbursed for all the free care that you normally give out via the phone or email by using store and forward telemedicine.

The largest benefit, however, is the savings that will occur when physicians no longer have to shoulder the burden of rent, staff, and other expenses when providing care that can be done outside the boundaries of an office. As a result, physicians should explore what aspects of patient care can be responsibly provided online and then try to move patients in that direction. Any progress physicians make in moving portions of their practice online will be protected by the parity law. It requires that online visits be reimbursed at the same full level as an office visit. Telemedicine is now very practical.

Physicians should be wary of many of the telemedicine sites that are out there. Most of the ones you read about in the headlines do not meet the California Medical Association’s (CMA) Principles of Telemedicine. These are the anonymous doctor banks, prescription mills, and sites that use physicians in foreign countries.

Fortunately, there are telemedicine sites that closely adhere to the CMA’s telemedicine standards.  Store and forward platforms like HealthLens (Author is a founder), Azova, and SkyMD enable physicians to practice online in a medically sound and ethical manner.

The primary standard is allowing patients to receive online care from their established physician. This enables follow up with that particular physician and a physical location if an office visit is necessary. Another CMA principle is that the patient’s medical insurance should be used to cover the visit. The CMA adherent platforms also provide secure messaging between patient and physician so the visits can be interactive.

Most commercial insurance companies including Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Cigna and United Healthcare cover store and forward telemedicine. Medicare only covers it in Alaska and Hawaii but there is legislation in progress to expand to all 50 states. To get reimbursed for store-and-forward telemedicine visits, just attach the GQ modifier to your CPT code; e.g. 99203 GQ.

In my practice, I see about 60 online patients per month. Acne, eczema and seborrheic keratoses make up the majority of the conditions I diagnose online. Time sensitive conditions like shingles are not uncommon online diagnoses and it is much easier to get patients on antivirals within that 72-hour window of opportunity when they don’t have to wait for an office visit.

I even see new patients on the internet. According to the Medical Board of California, you can evaluate a new patient online and establish a physician-patient relationship as long as the photo(s) submitted by the patient allows the physician to perform a physical examination that is adequate enough to reasonably make a diagnosis. Established patients, who make up the majority of my online visits, can be evaluated and treated without a photograph. This works out well for prescription renewals.  

Medical research will also benefit from the shift to online care because of the data that telemedicine provides. In the short time HealthLens has been in operation, we have amassed a large library of clinical images, corresponding diagnoses, treatments and, most importantly, outcomes. The granularity of the data will allow for unprecedented levels of analysis.    

Veering from long practiced norms is a troubling process for the medical community. However, the opportunity to eliminate so much of the expense involved in patient care cannot be ignored.  Physicians should be leading the charge in shifting patient care online.  We will be among the beneficiaries.

This is a guest post from HealthLens co-founder Christopher Schmidt, MD.

2016 in Review

2016 on the road
2016 was a good year for telemedicine. 2017 shows even more promise.

Last year, HealthLens say an array of patients using its platform to connect with their provider remotely. Many of the online visits were for skin checks; however, there were a number of other use cases that presented themselves throughout the year. As more patients use HealthLens, we expect to see even more interesting cases from patients all over the world.

Last year a patient traveling through India was able to connect with his dermatologist in San Jose. HealthLens offered a prompt response to his concern about a newly developed rash.

The oldest patient treated on HealthLens was 81 years old and she used her iPad to submit the visit without the assistance of anyone. HealthLens saw a number of Medicare patients use the service even though Medicare does not cover store and forward telemedicine….yet. These Medicare patients often cited the convenience of not having to travel to the doctor’s office as the main reason for using HealthLens.

The youngest patient treated on HealthLens was 10 years old. This girl, with the help of her mother, was able to submit a virtual office visit to her doctor.  HealthLens also connected hundreds of college students with the doctor they grew up visiting.

2016 showed steady growth both HealthLens and for the telemedicine market. Many HealthLens patients are continuing to use the platform over and over again. 2017 promises even more growth as more people are warming up to the idea of visiting their doctor online. HealthLens is excited to help facilitate this connectivity with the providers that patients know and trust.

The General Appearance Photo

Guy in red shirt taking photo of himself.
Make sure the photo you supply is clearly focused and recently taken. A “selfie” works best.

Many times patients are curious as to why they have to supply a general appearance photo along with their condition photos when submitting a virtual visit on HealthLens. A general appearance photo is essentially a “selfie” and it serves a couple of important functions during the online evaluation.

Foremost, the general appearance gives the doctor an up-to-date look at the patient’s overall health. If the doctor has never seen the patient before in their practice, this picture provides them with a foundation to compare the patient’s overall skin quality to the skin quality in their condition photos. It is a simple way to gauge how much sun damage the person may have. If it is an existing patient but the doctor has not seen him or her in their practice for a substantial period of time, the general appearance photo allows the doctor see if there have been any dramatic changes to the person’s health or skin quality besides normal aging.

A secondary purpose is that the general appearance photo helps the doctor instantly identify which patient they are evaluating. At a busy practice, there are usually a few patients who share the same name. Likewise, many doctors see multiple siblings from the same family in their practices. This photo eliminates the chance of the doctor getting two patients with the same name mixed up.

The general appearance photo is a vital aspect of your virtual visit on HealthLens. The best way to provide your doctor with a quick snapshot of your overall health is to provide the most recent photo possible. A “selfie” taken while completing the visit works great! So the next time you are submitting a virtual visit on HealthLens to your doctor, keep in mind the comically catchy lyrics of The Chainsmokers’s EDM hit song, “#SELFIE,” which go “But first, let me take a selfie.”