by Elise Reuter (FEBRUARY 3, 2020)
A New York-based company won a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build a diagnostic tool that can work without an internet connection. VisualDx won a $655,535 grant, which it will use to build an app that health care workers can use to recognize and treat skin conditions.
The grant is an offshoot of VisualDx’s existing work. The company has been building clinical decision support tools for providers since the early 2000s. Co-founder and CEO Art Papier, a dermatologist, said he created the company with the idea of helping busy doctors remember things.
Now, VisualDx is using its machine learning expertise and clinical database to build an app for clinicians that can diagnose skin conditions without an internet connection. It immediately analyses a photo of the skin lesion on-site, and then asks a few other questions to drive a better diagnosis, such as the patient’s location and what other symptoms they’ve been experiencing. The system doesn’t need an internet connection except to sync to the cloud when available, Papier said.
The idea is to put this tool in the hands of physicians and health care workers in areas with few available clinical resources.
“A lot of people think of dermatology as acne, warts, and skin cancer,” Papier said. “But that skill to look at a rash and say, ‘I think that patient has measles, or dengue fever.’ is key to improving diagnosis for infectious disease. We’re improving the ability for non-experts to recognize the clues.”