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Centre of Excellence

Ghent Centre of Excellence in psoriasis

Read how the Ghent Dermatology Department in Ghent University Hospital is creating ‘Excellence in Dermatology’ to provide optimal care for their psoriasis patients

Jo Lambert MD PhD Chair of the Department of Dermatology, Ghent University Hospital, Belgium

The Ghent Dermatology Department is a Flemish academic centre belonging to the Ghent University Hospital in the northwest of Belgium. The mission of our department, which employs about 70 people with nine senior dermatologists and 12 young doctors in training for dermatology, is to create ‘Excellence in Dermatology’. Working in academia implies an important social responsibility and specific approach, as we play a threefold role: offering services to patients and other stakeholders in healthcare, providing education and performing relevant and innovative research. In the overall attempt to deliver qualitative, innovative, personalised and efficient care with attention for prevention, our care for psoriasis patients is constantly evolving. The approach was largely presented in a PEARLS Centre of Excellence meeting organised for European dermatologists in April 2013.


Since 2006, we have been running a 12-week educational programme for adult patients with eczema and psoriasis, called SKINdeep or OnderHUIDs (in Dutch). Next to standard medical dermatological care, patients participating in this

programme are offered much more information on their skin disease, but also on lifestyle and the potential of stress- reducing techniques (sports, yoga, meditation) to help cope with their chronic disease. In 2010, we wanted to validate the benefits of this programme and set up a randomised, controlled trial comparing a control group of psoriasis patients with a group of psoriasis patients receiving the extra type of care through the programme. The one-year observation showed that the programme patients experienced a significantly quicker improvement of their

make psoriasis patients more mobile and reflect more on their lifestyle, has become very relevant. Several international research reports have shown that, at least in severe psoriasis cases, there is a higher chance of cardiovascular comorbidities than in a comparator population. Initiated by interesting conversations we had with our local rheumatology colleagues, we investigated whether this is something ‘skin’ specific in our patient population. So the question remains: do psoriasis patients suffer more often from metabolic syndrome comorbidities than psoriatic arthritis

“ In the overall attempt to deliver qualitative, innovative, personalised and efficient care with attention for prevention, our care for psoriasis patients is constantly evolving”

The next step is to try to personalise this approach to determine which type of patient benefits the most from this holistic care approach. Once more defined, we can start convincing healthcare payers to reimburse this type of additional care: going back to basics rather than paying for the design of more expensive and more sophisticated therapeutics.

skin lesions, and a better quality of life. Moreover, there was a lesser degree of depression, and they performed more sports.1

Metabolic syndrome Meanwhile, the initiative, designed to

patients (which was the perception we had)? In a prospective manner, we could show that, at least in our Ghent patient population, metabolic syndrome symptoms, more specifically the obesity compound, were significantly more present in the psoriasis patients than in the psoriatic arthritis patients.2


We are working towards a future where we would be able to customise medical treatment for psoriasis patients. Are there ways to predict if a patient will be a good responder to a biologic? When a good


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