3 Benefits of Using Technology to Improve Patient Care

Guest post published by VisualDx

Skin is often seen as the window into someone’s overall health. There are potentially life-threatening infectious diseases that can present with skin changes that look very different depending on the skin’s pigmentation. That is why it is imperative to not only train to these differences but also be equipped with technology to best understand these variations and provide the equitable care and the best care possible. 

Recognizing how rashes present on darker skin types and training clinicians to reduce their own biases by is key to reducing diagnostic error, yet professional resources often do not meet the diagnostic needs of people with deeply pigmented skin. This can lead to worse health outcomes for the BIPOC patient population. Take melanoma, for example: Black patients are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with later stage melanomas than their white counterparts, and this makes them harder to treat.[i]

Because diseases don’t always present as the classic case shown in textbooks, non-dermatologists are often challenged by variation. Fifteen percent of all primary care doctor visits involve a skin complaint and up to 48% of the time, these patients are misdiagnosed.[ii]

Without access to a variety of images of disease presentation, including on different skin types, then the chances of making a correct diagnosis are lower. Acute meningococcemia (below) is a life-threatening condition. These images show how the skin manifestation can look so different and can lead to missed or delayed diagnosis in a dark skin patient.

Using health information technologies to support clinicians throughout the entire diagnostic process can have the following major results:

1. Improved Diagnosis Among Dark Skin Patients

Many types of bias exist in medicine, both conscious and unconscious. These biases can lead to an incorrect or delayed diagnosis, leading to patient harm and poorer outcomes for patients of color.

Training clinicians to reduce their own biases by recognizing how rashes present on darker skin types is a key to reducing diagnostic error, yet professional resources often do not meet the diagnostic needs of people with deeply pigmented skin.

Dermatology textbooks and atlases underrepresent disease presentation in people of color and often fail to cover conditions across the spectrum of severity in those populations. A study published in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology analyzed the images found in educational resources, both printed and digital. Of the 15,445 images across all resources, a mere 19.5% were of darker skin. Online resources had a greater representation of dark skin images at 22.1%, compared to printed texts at 10.3%. 28.5 percent of images in VisualDx represent darker skin types.[iii]

VisualDx has been collecting an unmatched medical image library in its 20-year history, making sure diseases are represented on all age, severity, body location, and skin type. VisualDx improves diagnostic accuracy by 34% among primary care doctors when handling skin conditions.[iv] By providing clinicians with tools to make better decisions at the point of care, we can begin to improve not only diagnosis, but better testing, better treatments in patients with darker skin.

Increase in Accuracy
0 %

when primary care doctors use VisualDx to diagnose skin conditions

Minutes Saved

each day when using VisualDx

More Diverse
0 %

than the 15,000+ images across print and digital resources

2. Strengthened Patient-Provider Relationships

Not only does diagnostic accuracy increase substantially with the use of digital tools to support diagnosing, but patients and parents are also more satisfied with the consultations when their clinicians actively use such a tool.[v] If widely adopted across the healthcare industry, clinical decision support tools can empower all clinicians to improve their capabilities and accuracy within dermatology, improve the patient experience, and reduce referrals.

3. Money Saved

Providing equitable care through improved clinical decision-making is going to save you money in the long run. A person of color with a delayed diagnose of Lyme disease gets treated for something else, then years later develops neurological symptoms. In the end, that will cost the health system much more than if the patient was diagnosed correctly the first time.

The Bottom Line

Using a reference tool at the point of care can equip clinicians with the knowledge to better identify diseases accurately no matter their specialty or level of experience. With VisualDx, physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants have an instant second opinion right at their fingertips.

VisualDx works right inside the electronic health record, including MEDENT, with a focus on the problem list and medication list, providing answers to clinical questions right where and when you need it most.

Join the more than 2,300 hospitals and healthcare institutions already rely on VisualDx to improve diagnostic accuracy, reduce racial disparities, enhance medical education, and engage patients in their treatment and care.

[i] Nelson B. How dermatology is failing melanoma patients with skin of color: Unanswered questions on risk and eye-opening disparities in outcomes are weighing heavily on melanoma patients with darker skin. In this article, part 1 of a 2-part series, we explore the deadly consequences of racism and inequality in cancer care. Cancer Cytopathol. 2020 Jan;128(1):7-8. doi: 10.1002/cncy.22229. PMID: 31905269.

[ii] Fleischer AB. Diagnosis of Skin Disease by Nondermatologists. AJMC. https://www.ajmc.com/journals/issue/2000/2000-10-vol6-n10/oct00-504p1149-1156. Published October 1, 2000.

[iii] Alvarado SM, Feng H, Representation of dark skin images of common dermatologic conditions in educational resources: a cross-sectional analysis, JAAD (2020), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2020.06.041.  Published June 10, 2020. Accessed June 18, 2020.

[iv] Breitbart EW, Choudhury K, Andersen AD, et al. Improved patient satisfaction and diagnostic accuracy in skin diseases with a Visual Clinical Decision Support System-A feasibility study with general practitioners. PLoS One. 2020;15(7):e0235410. Published 2020 Jul 29.

[v] ibid



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