Claudia de la Cruz, MD
Clinical Director, Clinica Dermacross
Daniela Armijo, MD
- In Chile, an estimated 157.19 thousand people are living with psoriasis.
- The Latin American Working Group was formed in 2011 as a part of the IPC to connect regional experts to highlight local psoriasis issues on an international stage.
2020: Clinica Dermacross launched the website lapsoriasis.cl and Instagram account @tratandolapsoriasis to help patients and their families better understand psoriasis.
2021: Clinica Dermacross published a book Tratando La Psoriasis (Treating Psoriasis), giving away 1,000 copies to psoriasis patients throughout Chile.
2022: Clinica Dermacross held a free clinic for 200 psoriasis patients — many of whom were being undertreated for their psoriasis.
Comorbidities in Chilean Patients with Psoriasis: A Global Healthcare Study on Psoriasis. Valenzuela F, De La Cruz C, Lecaros C, et al. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2022 Dec;47(12):2234-2241. doi: 10.1111/ced.15384. Epub 2022 Oct 28. PMID: 35988043.
Vaccine Hesitancy and Access to Psoriasis Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Findings from a Global Patient-reported Cross-sectional Survey. Bechman K, Cook ES, Dand N, et al. Br J Dermatol. 2022 Aug;187(2):254-256. doi: 10.1111/bjd.21042. Epub 2022 May 3. PMID: 35104366; PMCID: PMC9545500.
The Incidence of Psoriasis in Chile: An Analysis of the National Waiting List Repository. Lecaros C, Dunstan J, Villena F, et al. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2021 Oct;46(7):1262-1269. doi: 10.1111/ced.14713. Epub 2021 Jun 26. PMID: 33914930; PMCID: PMC8518053.
The pandemic changed many aspects of everyday life and the healthcare industry. With limited in-person options, dermatologists had to rethink how they communicated with patients.
One healthcare organization that took this challenge in stride was Clinica Dermacross, an outpatient clinic in Chile focused on psoriasis.
Here, IPC Secretary and Clinica Dermacross Director Claudia de la Cruz, MD, and former 2018 IPC Fellow Daniela Armijo, MD share how they built a successful multimedia campaign that connected psoriasis patients throughout Chile to critical information about the disease.
Connecting with Patients During the Pandemic
To respond to the patients’ physical and psychological needs during the pandemic, Clinica Dermacross began a campaign to connect with patients while they couldn’t see them. Their goal was to explain how patients could manage their psoriasis in simple language.
“During the pandemia and especially at the very beginning during the lockdown, our patients were desperate because their psoriasis couldn’t be treated or controlled,” explains Dr. de la Cruz. “Some patients experienced flares because of stress and the uncertain times we were all living.”
In August 2020, Clinica Dermacross began its educational campaign by launching the website lapsoriasis.cl and Instagram account @tratandolapsoriasis. From publishing resources on how to live with psoriasis to hosting Instagram Lives about common comorbidities, these platforms connect patients with the resources they need — and the answers they want.
Beyond this, this campaign has also opened the door for communication to flow both ways. Clinica Dermacross has utilized these new platforms to conduct surveys with patients to understand their perspectives more deeply.
“With the surveys, we gathered a lot of interesting and relevant demographic and epidemiologic information,” says Dr. Armijo. “It also helped us to understand their needs when it came to accessing treatment — these studies help us with our work at Clinica Dermacross and have also been submitted for publication.”
By collecting survey results and working closely with the Global Psoriasis Atlas, these efforts are increasing the amount of data about psoriasis patients in Chile.
Supporting Both Patients and Their Families
While Drs. de la Cruz and Armijo wanted to connect with patients about their psoriasis, it was also crucial for them to connect with their friends and family. Clinica Dermacross’ educational campaign fights disinformation and cultural stimga and encourages patients to share what they learn with their loved ones and to communicate their needs and feelings clearly.
“When you have one patient that is affected with psoriasis, we know that there are at least four more that are affected by psoriasis, too,” says Dr. de la Cruz. “It’s not just the person with psoriasis; it’s their parents, children, and siblings who are also impacted.”
In a recent Take Ten with IPC video on the importance of the patient perspective, Dr. de la Cruz emphasizes that providers have a moral obligation to improve patient quality of life — and this includes ensuring that a patient has a strong support system of people who understand what psoriasis is and how it is impacting their loved one’s life.
To connect with a wide range of audiences, including patients’ loved ones, in 2021, Clinica Dermacross expanded its campaign efforts to include a published book Tratando la Psoriasis — which they delivered and gave away at no expense to psoriasis patients throughout Chile.
“Every day in consultations, we hear sad stories from patients. They say things like ‘I can’t sleep because I scratch all night, but my partner can’t sleep as well — and that is making me suffer too,’” says Dr. Armijo. “With the book, we are always telling patients to share this information with their family, with their relatives, and with their friends. Because they have to know how to help you and give you support.”
With many patients hiding their psoriasis or experiencing poor treatment, Tratando la Psoriasis has been an incredibly useful resource for patients and their families. Drs. de la Cruz and Armijo share that the affirmation from their patient community has been tremendous, sharing anecdotes of hope, acceptance, and understanding.
Continuing Connection Beyond the Pandemic
Created out of a need to communicate with psoriasis patients during the early days of lockdown, Clinica Dermacross has continued its outreach initiative with noted success.
Since launching this campaign:
- Their Instagram has reached almost 13,000 followers
- The website has hosted over 100,000 visitors
- The book has been delivered to 1,000 patients
- Their surveys have collected over 3,000 responses
As the next step in their informative campaign, Clinica Dermacross listened to what they were hearing from the survey results and conducted a free clinic in October 2022. Treating over 200 people with psoriasis, Dr. de la Cruz shared that this only emphasized the need to continue connecting with patients, families, and providers.
“One thing the free clinic showed us was that many people were being undertreated,” says Dr. de la Cruz. “Not only is our work about communicating with patients, so they know what they need to be treated — but it’s also about communicating with doctors, so they have the knowledge to provide the best treatments possible.”