By Nada Elbuluk, MD (DEC 13, 2020)
It is our ethical and moral obligation as physicians to provide health equity to all patients. Despite knowing this, medicine has historically fallen short. For far too long patients with pigmented skin have been marginalized and have faced worse healthcare outcomes than their peers with lighter skin colors. When it comes to skin cancer, for example, statistics show that the morbidity and mortality of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers are disproportionately higher among African Americans and Hispanics. The estimated five-year melanoma survival rate for Black patients is only 70% compared to 94% for whites.
Healthcare disparities and a lack of health equity are complex problems that require multifaceted solutions. One tangible way we can start to address some of these issues is through medical education, more specifically, medical images. By ensuring that medical training includes a diverse set of clinical images that is representative of our national and global populations, we can begin to improve diagnostic accuracy, which has downstream implications in improving healthcare outcomes—particularly for patients of color.