The practice of dermatology has, over the past 30 years, been distinguished by its transition from provision of essentially empirical treatments to a practice in which rational therapies, based on enhanced knowledge of the pathogenesis of disease, are administered. Coincidentally, the boundaries between organ specific specialities such as our own have become blurred. Thus there is now great overlap with numerous other medical disciplines. These include: oncology, immunology / allergology, plastic surgery, oral medicine and, increasingly rheumatology and other disciplines in which management of chronic inflammatory disease plays an important role.
Recent changes in European medical regulatory systems and healthcare delivery systems, budgetary constraints and the increasing influence of these and other third parties (for example the media and the internet) on the practice of medicine provide both opportunities and threats to the development of our profession. Driven by the need to provide better care for our patients, it is imperative that the dermatology profession identifies possible future scenarios for the practice and development of the speciality and implements strategies and programmes with optimum cost benefit for healthcare providers across all European countries.