In Wake of Ebola Outbreak, VisualDx Targets Travel-Related Diseases With New App

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New York-based digital health vendor VisualDx has unveiled a new set of tools designed to help doctors diagnose travel-related conditions more efficiently. VisualDx is a stand-alone clinical decision support app that, much like Epocrates and UpToDate, has built up an impressive core following by taking diagnostic information that is valuable to clinicians and mobilizing it. VisualDx, as the name implies, is an image-based CDS tool that started in the dermatology space. The company’s core product is an app that helps doctors diagnose conditions by letting them enter a set of symptoms, and then returning pictures that will help them narrow down the diagnosis. The VisualDX library holds more than 100,000 images, each linked to a problem or disease. Initially conceived as a support tool for dermatologists, the majority of the images are of skin conditions, like rashes, but VisualDx is in the process of expanding its decision support tool across all areas of medicine.

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The new tool, called the Emerging Global Disease tool, combines VisualDx’s image-based search platform with a database of regional infectious diseases so that, in addition to symptoms, doctors can enter recent travel history and see additional potential diagnoses. The tool is already live on the VisualDx site, and open to both providers and patients for free. In preparation for an upcoming work trip to England, I typed United Kingdom into the search field and was greeted with a short list of images including the classic bulls-eye rash of Lyme disease, as well as less common conditions like the boils of cowpox. VisualDx says that inspiration for the new tool came directly from the recent Ebola outbreak, during which a contagious, Ebola-positive man returning from West Africa was unfortunately misdiagnosed in a Texas emergency department and sent home. To address this, VisualDx wants to help its users spot diseases from other regions that they may not be as familiar with.

“It’s not at this point just about another misdiagnosis of a patient with Ebola, it’s about diagnostic accuracy,” said Art Papier, MD and CEO of VisualDx. “Ebola detection protocols are now in place for patients arriving from West Africa with a fever, but we believe that many clinicians are unaware of other infectious diseases that are emerging worldwide.”

With 1,500 hospitals listed as customers, there is a large community of clinicians that will now have this enhancement in their digital health toolbox. Time will tell if it improves diagnostic accuracy for travel-related conditions.


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