Anne Arundel Medical Center Uses Imaging Tech to Improve Diagnoses



The diagnostic process can be a source of great stress for patients. It's arguably the most critical area of healthcare when it comes to them having a negative experience.

Trying to get an illness or condition diagnosed can be a long and wearisome process for any patient. It often requires them to make repeated visits to their healthcare provider, have various and often intrusive tests, and wait long periods of time for results to come back. Compounding this issue is the fact that the diagnostic process regularly involves several dead ends as possible answers are eliminated - naturally leading to even more frustration and stress among patients.

It should come as no surprise that many healthcare providers are deploying digital technology to help streamline the diagnostic process and improve the patient experience, and the Anne Arundel Medical Center is no exception.

Anne Arundel Medical Center

The Anne Arundel Medical Center has a long history of exemplary innovation in the field of patient experience.

In fact, the healthcare organization was recently recognized by The Beryl Institute in its 2019 Patient Experience Awards. The award was given to patient and family advisor Earl Shellner for his work in leading innovations which positively impact the patient and family experience. He was also recognized for representing the voice of patients and families in such a way that it inspired a new way of thinking within the organization.

"The biggest challenge is guiding and supporting staff through radical changes in the way we provide care throughout our system," said Vice President of Nursing and Chief Nursing Officer at the Anne Arundel Medical Center, Barbara Jacobs. "I believe that clinicians are truly recognizing the importance of partnering with patients in deeper and more complete ways than ever before. Patient access to their electronic medical record and their desire to communicate electronically with their care team both in and out of the hospital will assist patients in becoming better informed and knowledgeable participants in their care decisions."

Continuing this tradition of patient experience innovation, the Anne Arundel Medical Center is incorporating new imaging technology to help them improve diagnostics and the related patient experience.

VisualDX

When mistakes are made in the diagnostic process, it can cause untold frustrations for patients. Spending time, effort, and money to attend appointments and be subjected to tests, only to hit a dead end because a mistake has been made somewhere along the line adds more stress to an already sensitive time.

The Anne Arundel Medical Center is deploying a new digital tool designed to help the diagnostic process become more accurate. The tool is VisualDX, an app which uses pictures and other graphical information to help physicians pinpoint one of thousands of diagnoses.

The VisualDX tool was initially developed to help primary care, emergency department, and urgent care physicians diagnose dermatological conditions. However, after finding success in that field, it has now been expanded to cover a host of other conditions and medical applications, including drug reactions, infectious diseases, diagnosis of ophthalmologic issues, and assistance interpreting information in x-ray images.

"We're moving from a generation that was trained in medical school to read books and hold all knowledge all in your brain without referencing anything, to a future state where physicians grab information at the point of care to answer patients' questions," said Cofounder and CEO of the technology company behind VisualDX, Art Papier, MD. "Technology is helping the profession make that transition."

Accessible from an online portal or smartphone, physicians can enter symptoms - lower quadrant pain, fever, an enlarged liver, joint pain, etc. - after which the system guides them through a differential diagnosis process where the options are narrowed down from about 3,000 possibilities. The VisualDX app uses photographic images to depict various patient conditions, as well as building graphics, or "Sympticons," which enable users to use visual references as they work their way through a diagnosis.

VisualDX also uses SMART on FHIR technology (Substitutable Medical Applications, Reusable Technologies on Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) which enables the platform to be integrated with the EHR. Because it can pull information directly from the EHR, healthcare providers no longer need to manually input demographic information such as age, sex, medications, allergies, etc., allowing them to even further speed up the diagnostic process.

Final Thoughts

Any technology which can be deployed to make the diagnostic process more streamlined and less prone to errors should be welcomed with open arms. With the Anne Arundel Medical Center and several other healthcare providers already using the VisualDX tool in their own clinics, we should see patient experiences improve drastically in these organizations.


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