Martin Awarded “Patient Care Hero” for Telemedicine Dermatology Intervention

Kari Lyn Martin, MD, FAAD

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has named MU Health Care dermatologist Kari Lyn Martin, MD, FAAD, a Patient Care Hero for using telemedicine to diagnose and remove a patient’s melanoma in one day.

Martin received a photo of a Sedalia patient’s suspect mole via a telemedicine platform from a colleague. She asked the patient, Donna Randall, to come in for an appointment as soon as possible. Later that morning, the mole was removed and a biopsy found that it was positive for melanoma.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, but the five-year survival rate is 99% if detected early. If melanoma spreads to distant organs, the five-year survival rate drops to 25%.

“I’ve lost loved ones to cancer, and I am so thankful I was able to get treatment so quickly,” Randall said.

The AAD created the Patient Care Heroes program to recognize physicians who transform patients’ lives by using their expertise and collaborating with other physicians to treat serious skin diseases. Martin, an associate professor of dermatology at the MU School of Medicine, demonstrated the spirit of a patient care hero in her decisive care of Randall.

“Going from a teledermatology diagnosis to surgery in just three hours is a remarkable thing. I can’t thank Dr. Martin and her colleagues enough for working together so seamlessly to provide this necessary care,” Randall said. “In our town, many don’t have access to transportation or are otherwise unable to travel to see specialists. With the growth of telemedicine and teledermatology, it’s easier than ever to get help and treatment.”

Telehealth has become widespread during the COVID-19 outbreak but has been used by MU Health Care dermatologists for more than 20 years. Telemedicine helps to bridge the gap between rural patients and specialists. Martin and her colleagues also participate in Derm ECHO, a virtual learning program that teaches primary care physicians about diagnosing and treating common skin diseases.

“Before COVID-19, teledermatology was a nice option to have for patients like Donna who lived a long distance from Columbia. Now, it is a critical part of our mission,” Martin said. “We can continue to provide excellent quality care for patients and manage acute and chronic skin disease while protecting the public health of Missouri at large.”