Dr. Elbuluk joined VisualDx in August and has accomplished a lot in a short period of time. Read on to learn about Dr. Elbuluk’s career passions and goals for the future—including a sneak peek at an upcoming endeavor—in this short interview.
What drew you to medicine and the field of dermatology?
Dr. Elbuluk: I was drawn to the field of medicine because of the ability to help and heal others through the study of the human body. I was drawn to the field of dermatology because of its visual nature, the medical and procedural components of the specialty, and the ability to have longitudinal relationships with patients of all ages. In addition to the clinical aspects of dermatology, I was also drawn by the research opportunities in the specialty and all the fascinating topics that could be studied, particularly in skin of color and pigmentary disorders.
What drew you to your passion for skin of color, ethnic skin conditions, and pigmentary disorders?
I was first drawn to skin of color and pigmentary disorders as a medical student when I was shadowing a dermatologist in Detroit who had a large as skin of color population in her practice. I was intrigued by the dermatologic conditions that were unique to skin of color and that presented differently in skin of color. I wanted to understand more about how to effectively treat these conditions and help these patients. It was also then that I realized what a shortage there is in skin of color dermatologists and research and that this is an area in which I could make significant contributions to the field. With regard to my interest in pigmentation, I was very interested in melanocyte biology and what could affect the melanocyte to either become more or less active and how this could result in disorders of hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, and depigmentation.
What drew you to the role of Director of Clinical Impact at VisualDx? What are your goals for the role?
I was drawn to the role of Director of Clinical Impact at VisualDx because of my interest in diversity and inclusion as well as health equity and improving healthcare disparities. I’ve been part of a lot of work both locally at institutions as well as with national organizations to help in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space. The opportunity with VisualDx was unique in allowing me to continue to expand on this work at a national and global level. VisualDx is a powerful medical technology platform that I have used for years since I was a medical student and which I think has the ability to transform and impact medicine in a positive way that can directly improve healthcare disparities and improve health equity. VisualDx has an amazing database of images, nearly a third of which are skin of color images, and this can significantly contribute to medical education for healthcare providers. It can also be used as a powerful tool for patient engagement and developing patient rapport which can also contribute to improving healthcare outcomes.
I found that the current and future work being done at VisualDx organically aligned with my own interest in healthcare equity, which made this role a natural fit and a very exciting opportunity.
My goals for myself in this role are to increase the utilization of VisualDx on a national and global level and also to expand on users’ awareness of how to best utilize the platform in order to improve healthcare experiences for providers and patients. I also hope that we can continue to expand the work that VisualDx is doing to improve medicine for skin of color patients and improve healthcare disparities. Beyond racial and ethnic bias in medicine, I think there are many ways that VisualDx can help reduce other types of biases in medicine. Making users aware of these benefits while continuing to improve on the platform is another goal of mine.
What are your hopes for Project IMPACT?
I hope that Project IMPACT can do exactly what its name says—improve medicine’s power to address care and treatment and do so in a way that’s impactful. I hope that it’s impactful for healthcare providers, both in terms of improving their educational training and the healthcare they can provide, and I hope that it’s positively impactful on patients and the healthcare they receive. I hope that our project can increase the visibility and utility of the VisualDx program and the powerful tools it can provide to healthcare providers, which can help them reduce their own biases and improve patient engagement. Doing so can also lead to improved diagnostic accuracy, patient rapport and compliance, and ultimately improved healthcare outcomes.
Many people are unaware of all that they can do with the VisualDx platform as an educational tool and are likewise unaware of all the other resources, programming, and partnerships VisualDx has to educate and support medical providers as well as patients. Through Project IMPACT we hope to highlight all this and to continue to expand on the positive and transformative work VisualDx is doing.