Dream Team

Those with HS who see a dermatologist feel more confident about their treatment plan

A recent survey, conducted by the digital health company Health Union and titled Hidradenitis Suppurativa In America, found that those who live with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) and include a dermatologist on their healthcare team are “more active in trying to find treatments that work and feel more comfortable with their treatment management.”1

On the other hand, those who only see non-dermatologist HCPs reported feeling less confident about their treatment plan as well as their HCP.

Despite a dermatologist’s apparent positive impact for those living with HS, barely more than half (56%) of the 406 survey respondents, all diagnosed with HS, reported that they currently see that a dermatologist. Among this population, 43% said they also include a primary care physician (PCP) on their healthcare team.

On the flip side, 44% of survey respondents stated that they do not see a dermatologist for their condition. Within this group of participants, half said they see no healthcare provider (HCP) at all for their HS and 43% see only a PCP.

What’s the Fuss

So, why would someone living with HS even bother seeing a medical practitioner qualified to diagnose and treat skin disorders? According to the Health Union survey, those with HS who currently see a dermatologist not only feel more confident about their treatment plan but they also have a history of trying more and different treatments, such as topical antibiotics or steroid injections.

Respondents who currently see a dermatologist for their HS are also more likely to believe they’re doing “a good job” to better manage their HS. Those good feelings include a heightened confidence in their own actions to help control their HS.

A Few Guesses

The Health Union team analyzed survey responses and speculated as to what hardships might prevent someone living with HS from seeing a dermatologist.

  • Disease severity may impact the decision to seek a dermatologist’s input. The survey found that 22% of respondents who currently see a dermatologist were diagnosed with a severe stage of HS at the time of their first appointment. In other words, patients may wait until their condition escalates.
  • Financial concerns, including health insurance as well as out-of-pocket patient financial obligations, could impact the number of physicians someone with HS includes on their treatment team. The survey reported that only 4% of respondents currently seeing a dermatologist had lost their insurance since being diagnosed with HS 18% of those who do not see a dermatologist
  • Lack of geographical access to a dermatologist who specializes in HS may be a factor. The survey found that 19% of respondents seeing a dermatologist noted having to travel a “far distance” to see their dermatologist.

“Currently, there is a lack of research and general awareness about HS, which leads to stigma and an increase in disease burden for patients,” says Sara Hayes, vice president of community development for Health Union. “Patient-reported findings from surveys like Hidradenitis Suppurativa In America can help change the narrative and emphasize the need for new treatment options—as well as the need for any HCP who treats HS to thoroughly understand those options—to help improve the quality of life of all people living with HS.

To jumpstart changes in the HS narrative, Health Union has shared the data from its survey with its HSDisease.com community. As Hayes expressed, revealing the survey’s findings will hopefully help empower the people in this communities to speak up about their condition and ignite an overall increase in education and awareness about patient experiences, needs, and expectations.

  1. Health Union. Hidradenitis Suppurativa Survey Finds Dermatologists Can Improve Patients’ Confidence in Condition Management. Available from https://health-union.com/press-releases/hidradenitis-suppurativa-in-america-2021/?av_sc_blog_page=2. Accessed July 8, 2021