CALL FOR GRANT APPLICATIONS - Bridging the Inflammatory Dermatosis Care Divide:   Teledermatology Grant Program for Underserved Areas Across the U.S.

July 3, 2023

WASHINGTON (June 27, 2023) – The George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) and Pfizer Global Medical Grants are collaborating to offer a grant opportunity focused on broad implementation of GW’s Teledermatology Help Desk Clinic model in underserved areas across the United States. It is designed to expand access to quality-based care for Inflammatory Dermatoses including Atopic Dermatitis and other inflammatory dermatologic conditions.

“During the pandemic, the healthcare divide became even more apparent across many underserved areas,” said Adam Friedman, M.D., chair of Dermatology and residency program director at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “However, as telemedicine enhanced access to dermatologic medical care for many, we also noticed that the divide itself was widened not just because there was a health desert – but now there’s also a technology desert.”

Dermatologic disease affects millions of people worldwide placing a substantial burden on patients, the healthcare system and society. Affecting more than 30 million children and adults in the U.S., atopic dermatitis is one of the most prevalent skin disorders. Quality of life of those suffering from atopic dermatitis is impacted not only due to unremitting severe itching, disturbed sleep, and capability to concentrate, but also because of social stigmas associated with a noticeable skin disorder.

“Specific populations are at greatest risk for physical, emotional, and financial losses associated with inflammatory dermatoses. And it is well established that there are significant racial disparities in health care and disease burden,” said Friedman. “For example, those who identify as Black tend to have more atopic dermatitis, have more severe disease, but make up fewer of the appointments seen by a dermatologist for this condition. While finally receiving the attention it deserves, this disparity has been long lived and pervasive in all areas of medicine.”

Grant Program Based on GW’s Teledermatology Help Desk Clinic Model
The grant program is designed as an expansion of a current program run by GW that focuses on neighborhoods in Ward 7 and Ward 8 of Washington, D.C., an area that has limited access to dermatologic care.  

GW established a telehealth help desk at the Temple of Praise Church, which is a pillar in the community with more than fifteen thousand members, in a residential area of Ward 8. This new program will complement the church’s existing programs that are aimed at helping community members in need. 

Participants are entered into the GW medical records system, taught how to best optimize telemedicine with their device in real time and about atopic dermatitis, followed by a free telehealth visit with a GW dermatology resident.

According to Friedman, “The number of dermatologists/dermatology clinics in this area of the District is disproportionately low to serve the health needs of this large population. Outcomes and access to care among these residents lag far behind other groups.”  

Friedman added: “In fact there is not a single dermatologist practicing in this area of D.C. Though the reasons for underutilizing telemedicine can vary from patient to patient, we believe that improving access to technology and increasing awareness of teledermatology will lead to more patients using this type of healthcare to seek diagnosis and treatment before symptoms become too severe.”

A patient satisfaction survey from the GW pilot program (accepted for publication, Journal of Drugs in Dermatology) found that: a. the majority of participants did not have a dermatologist (70%); b. 93.94% were extremely satisfied with the clinic, and the remaining were very satisfied; c. 90.1% reported that the telehealth visits significantly changed the management of their atopic dermatitis; and d. 100% of participants responded that it is extremely important to continue these clinics.

Who Can Apply / How to Apply:
Organizations with expertise in the care and treatment of patients with inflammatory skin conditions, including medical, nursing, allied health, and/or pharmacy professional schools; healthcare institutions (both large and small); professional associations and medical societies; medical education companies; and other entities with a mission related to healthcare professional education and/or healthcare improvement.  
Individual projects requesting up to a maximum of $250,000 will be considered. Anticipated Approximate Project Start and End Dates: January 2024 – July 2025 (maximum project length is 18 months).

The full Request for Proposals can be accessed here and proposals are due by August 24, 2023.

About Pfizer Global Medical Grants
Pfizer Global Medical Grants (GMG) supports the global healthcare community’s independent initiatives (e.g., research, quality improvement, or education) to improve patient outcomes in areas of unmet medical need that are aligned with Pfizer’s medical and/or scientific strategies.

About the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences is dedicated to improving the health of our local, national, and global communities by:  Educating a diverse workforce of tomorrow’s leaders in medicine, science, and health sciences. Healing through innovative and compassionate care. Advancing biomedical, translational, and health services delivery research with an emphasis on multidisciplinary collaboration. Promoting a culture of excellence through inclusion, service, and advocacy. As a globally recognized academic medical center, GW SMHS embraces the challenge of eliminating health disparities.
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