Skin app can help docs, patients with ‘rash’ decision

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's that time of year when we start baring more skin and noticing more bumps, rashes and troubling spots. Your doctor may be more apt to give you a correct diagnosis with an app.

"My arm just seemed like it had a larger rash on it before, and I thought it was eczema," says patient Holly McKinney.

Dr. David Voran of Truman Medical Center Lakewood doesn't think it's eczema. But the family practice doc knows skin conditions can be tricky to diagnose.

"My guess is that on the primary care side, 30 to 40 percent of the time, we may have picked the wrong one from our fund of knowledge," says Dr. Voran.

To improve his accuracy, Dr. Voran adds an app called VisualDX. It's just for medical professionals. He inputs the symptoms, the location on the body and other details. The app produces photographs that can lead to or help confirm the doc's diagnosis.

Holly and the doctor see that she has folliculitis instead of eczema.

"And then it had the treatment. He e-mailed me the treatment and what causes it and thinks like that," Holly says.

Recently, a resident at Truman thought a patient might have sepsis, a severe blood infection. But through VisualDX, he was able to determine the patient really had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a disease carried by ticks.

Dr. Voran says the app doesn't always help.

"Because the diseases are so infinite, sometimes you can get down into a rat hole and come up with some very rare disorder or some condition that it's obviously not the case," he says.

But he likes how it engages patients in what he calls the discovery process, and makes them less skeptical of his diagnosis.

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