Last Updated: 19 August 2020
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Improve Diagnostic Accuracy and Earn CME
VisualDx is a user-friendly artificial intelligence-enhanced visual clinical decision support system that can be used in just about every specialty. It is available on desktop, android, iOS, and is one tool that I personally think is a must-have for all practicing clinicians.
With the ambitious goal of improving diagnostic accuracy and patient care, VisualDx does this with concise, peer-reviewed content thoughtfully designed for use at the point of care.
Here, we’ll be discussing VisualDx, as well as their specialty add-on feature, DermExpert, to see if either would be a worthwhile addition to your practice.
Let’s go through my personal process. Before using any medical app, I ask myself three questions:
- Does it work (is it evidence-based and clinically useful)?
- Can I use it when I need to (in the exam room or on my relaxing 20-second lunch break)?
- Can I easily earn and claim category 1 CME from it?
We’ll answer those questions and more, including if it is worth the price of $399 (or $499 with DermExpert). Onward.
VisualDx (and DermExpert) Summary
Customized differential builder + guided workup
400+ patient handouts (and counting)
Easy-to-use mobile app (iOS and Android) available
Earn CME with every search
Concise, actionable synopses for conditions seen in every specialty
DermExpert comes with AI support for rashes, lesions, moles, etc on mobile
- normally $399/year
- VisualDx + DermExpert:
- normally $499/year
Institutional accounts come with all of this, plus:
- IP authentication
- UpToDate interoperability
- Integration with EHR
- Certified for risk CME accreditation
Contact us for publisher’s exclusive institutional pricing
Logical Images gave us free access to VisualDx + DermExpert for this article. We may earn a commission from sales generated through links on this page, at no extra cost to you. We wouldn’t promote something that we don’t fully believe in and wouldn’t use ourselves. As always, we recommend you buy this product only if you feel it will help you achieve your goals. Finally, no partner or advertiser, including Logical Images/VisualDx, ever has any influence on editorial decisions.
What started as a modest dermatology reference has grown into the world’s largest medical image library, encompassing just about every medical specialty, from COVID-19 to psychiatry. My friends at Logical Images let me try their product, and I’m excited to tell you about my experience.
You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, VisualDx takes that concept to the next level. See for yourself.
There are a few useful ways to use this app, which we’ll go through below.
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Build a Differential Diagnosis
This is probably the most unique and valuable component of this product (without DermExpert, that is). The system will guide you through building a differential diagnosis based on the patient’s chief concern. You can also use the somehow even easier quick-start differential builder to arrive at a differential diagnosis and considerations for the workup in no time.
The more information and specificity you can enter, the stronger the differential will be, just like any other time in practice. You’ll know by the meter at the top of the screen, so you can adjust your confidence appropriately.
Once you’ve entered the presenting sign or symptom, the app guides you through what is essentially a focused HPI, review of systems, and physical examination, most of which you have presumably already done, or at least started.
What’s reassuring is that you’ll be prompted to consider additional questions in case you’ve already seen 35 patients with a cough and fever that day. Our minds can get fatigued, we may forget to check our biases, and an infinite number of distractions seem to be out to get us, especially after a long day of clinic.
However, the AI does not tire or get bored of seeing the same thing over and over again, which you can use to your advantage. Nobody is saying an app replaces clinical thinking, but used strategically, it most certainly can augment your skills and knowledge.
Once you’ve come to the differential, you may be pleased to see that many of yours are on this page. Like any good differential, there are primary and secondary considerations, worst-case-scenarios, and results broken down by system. Most of us probably do something like this every time we see a patient, but this lays it all out in a visually appealing, user-friendly interface.
Review Almost Any Condition
What if the diagnosis is already made? We’ve all done a quick online search before seeing a patient with Leriche syndrome listed on their medical history.
It’s ok to wonder to yourself, “What the *** is that again? Are you sure they taught that in medical school?” Especially if it’s something you (or anyone else for that matter) rarely see outside of a textbook.
In this case, just type it into the search bar and go straight to the overview. Each condition (even Leriche syndrome) has an accompanying image – the Sympticon (clever, no?) – to give you a quick overview (or reminder) of what you are dealing with.
It also comes with a concise, no-frills, action-points-only summary of the condition. Synopsis, differential, workup, maybe a couple of pearls, treatment, boom. Done. Perfect for the clinic or on rounds.
See for yourself. Here’s their entry on generalized anxiety disorder. I was particularly impressed just how far they’ve been able to branch out from dermatology to other specialties without sacrificing quality. Since we’re talking about a visual reference here, let’s stick with that theme.
From the homepage, I searched for “GAD.”
You can see results from the ‘Build a differential diagnosis’ section listed right away, with the ‘Diagnoses’ section below. Selecting generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is what I intended, you are taken to the entry for the condition.
On the desktop version, you’ll find a table of contents, patient handouts, and links to other resources, notably Up-To-Date and PubMed, on the left side of the screen.
When I used my android device to perform this search, the same options were under a hamburger menu on the right. Basically I’m saying that if you made it all the way here on the internet, you’ll have no problem using VisualDx.
Whenever you build a differential or look up a diagnosis with VisualDx, you accrue potential CME credits. They remain ‘potential’ until you complete the CME credits in your account by answering the standard required questions (there are only two). From there, hit ‘claim’ then print or save your certificate.
It appears that each search or differential you build is worth 0.5 credits, which seems reasonable to me.
I looked up several more conditions, built a differential, and used DermExpert for this article and noticed the credits in my account really added up quickly. Great option if you are one of those procrastinators who waits until the last minute to get your CME (hint: we all are, so don’t feel bad).
Summary of VisualDx
The value for the price is unprecedented. For all this system can do, I would pay double the price without a second thought. Triple if I worked in primary care. Seriously, it’s that good. And that’s not even taking the potential CME you can earn into consideration.
- So, does it work? Yes, better than expected
- Can I use it when I need to? Abso-flipping-lutely
- Can I easily earn and claim CME from it? Sure can!
Is it worth the price? That’s an easy and emphatic yes from us. It’s currently listed at $399 per year without DermExpert.
Read my story on what surprised me about DermExpert below.
Moving on. I am super impressed with DermExpert. Full transparency, my clinical background is in neurosurgery and psychiatry, definitely not dermatology. But I think that’s the point. Most skin conditions aren’t managed by dermatologists.
So I decided to test it out on an undisclosed newborn guinea pig…I mean – daughter – of mine. She just so happened to develop a mild rash during the second week of life. I know, I know, I can hear all you derm folks shouting the diagnosis at me now, but bear with me.
I opened the app on my android, snapped a picture, and up came a list of differential diagnoses, images to which I could compare the actual condition, and options for next steps. So easy even a surgeon or psychiatrist could do it.
The technology is cloud-based and HIPAA-compliant, and pictures you take are not stored for an extra layer of security.
Like any good clinician-scientist, I then curbsided one of my wife’s friends, who happens to be a pediatric dermatologist, and asked her to look at the rash. We also had a well-visit scheduled with our daughter’s pediatrician the following day. All three (pediatric dermatology, pediatrics, and VisualDx DermExpert) agreed on the diagnosis.
To obtain an unbiased result, I did not inform either of them of the other’s differential beforehand. The consensus? A less than exciting case of neonatal acne. Of course, that may not be the hardest diagnosis to get right, but when you work in psychiatry, (ahem, me), every rash might as well be Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
DermExpert also has a quiz feature where you can test your knowledge and compete against clinicians from around the world via leaderboards.
VisualDx with DermExpert Summary
So to recap; DermExpert is great for broadening your differential, confirming your suspicion, and identifying possible next steps in the workup or management of the patient.
For new clinicians, using this, along with collaboration from more senior practitioners, can help you feel more comfortable with your clinical thinking sooner than you otherwise would.
- So, does it work? Yes!
- Can I use it when I need to? Sure can!
- Can I easily earn CME from it? Can and did!
Is it worth the price? Individual licenses normally sell for $499 per year and include the rest of the VisualDx features discussed above. Neurosurgeons and psychiatrists would likely benefit most from VisualDx alone, while primary care, internal medicine, hospitalists, and anyone else who treats patients with skin should at least think about getting VisualDx with DermExpert. The extra $100 is well worth the headaches it can save you.