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VisualDx Launches Project IMPACT to Address Racism and Implicit Bias in Medicine

Skin of Color Society and NEJM Group Partner with Leader in Diagnostic Accuracy to Improve Diagnosis in Skin of Color and Reduce Racial Disparities of Health

VisualDx announced Project IMPACT (Improving Medicine’s Power to Address Care and Treatment). Project IMPACT is a global effort to reduce disparities in medicine and highlight ways to bridge gaps of knowledge and improve healthcare outcomes for patients of color. Inaugural members include thought leaders on skin of color and diagnostic accuracy from renowned organizations such as the Skin of Color Society (SOCS) and New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) Group.

Dark skin is significantly underrepresented in medical literature and curricula, comprising an average of just 4.5% of images in medical textbooks. Consequently, clinicians of all licensures and specialties are often insufficiently trained to recognize disease patterns in patients of color. To confront this issue, VisualDx, SOCS, and NEJM Group organized a webinar series in the fall of 2020 to educate providers on structural racism in medicine, disease patterns in dark skin types, and culturally competent care. Due to the overwhelmingly positive response from more than 32,000 registrants from close to 100 countries, VisualDx created Project IMPACT to raise awareness and adoption of educational and clinical resources and solutions that bolster clinicians’ ability to accurately diagnose disease in black and brown skin and improve health equity.

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“Dermatologic and systemic diseases present with varying shades of color, erythema, and patterns in patients of color with melanin-rich skin. The Skin of Color Society (SOCS) has been working to advance healthcare equity, education, research and mentoring since our founding in 2004. We now are honored to collaborate and share the expertise of our members with VisualDx and NEJM Group on this vitally important initiative,” commented Lynn McKinley-Grant, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist, SOCS President, Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, Howard University College of Medicine and Former Vice-Chair for Diversity and Community Engagement at Duke University College of Medicine, Department of Dermatology.

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“NEJM Group is pleased to be part of this collaboration with Skin of Color Society and VisualDx to offer a collection of resources to engage and educate clinicians on diagnostic quality and accuracy in patients of color,” said Kathy Charlton, Managing Director of NEJM Group Education and Applied Knowledge.

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For more than twenty years, VisualDx has worked with board-certified physicians across the globe to collect hundreds of thousands of professional medical images displaying the full spectrum of disease presentations across skin types. As a result, greater than 30% of images in its platform represent dark skin types. Studies also indicate that clinicians leveraging VisualDx at the point of care can improve diagnostic accuracy as well as patient education and engagement, particularly for traditionally marginalized groups.

“Lack of sufficient medical education on darker skin has had direct implications on health disparities in patients of color,” said Nada Elbuluk, MD, MSc, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and Director of Clinical Impact at VisualDx. “Project IMPACT was created with the understanding that a far-reaching, collaborative effort is needed to eliminate systemic racism in healthcare. I’m honored to lead this charge and help build a global community dedicated to transforming medicine for the good of all patients.”

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