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Dr Art Papier on How Project IMPACT Aims to Reduce Racial Disparities in Dermatology


The lack of racial representation in dermatology education prompted the launch of Project IMPACT, explained Art Papier, MD, dermatologist, CEO, VisualDx at the 2022 American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting.

The lack of racial representation in dermatology education has been a problem for years, despite experts and students wanting to do better, said Art Papier, MD, dermatologist, CEO, VisualDx at the 2022 American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting.


Why was Project IMPACT started, and what have you found in its first year?

We started Project IMPACT because there's a real gap in training and education in the physical exam of the skin of people of color. Much of medical books and resources and lectures have used imagery of the last 100 years of disease in White skin. That's a real gap because patients can present to their doctor or the emergency room [ER], have a rash, and they are being evaluated by an emergency physician, and that rash could be a clue to a serious systemic disease and infectious disease. If the physician cannot recognize that clue, then there's going to be real gaps in diagnosis.

We've been aware of this problem for years, and now there's more attention to racism in medicine. We've had a 20-year commitment to this at VisualDx, where we've been collecting imagery of disease in people of all colors. We realized, there still was a lack of awareness of how big a problem this is, that primary care physicians, ER physicians, nurse practitioners, all had a thirst to do better in terms of diagnosing in skin of color.

With this knowledge, what are the next steps for Project IMPACT?

The first thing we need to do is build awareness of the problem. In the first year, we were able to get 11 societies and organizations to join the effort. So this is a collaboration of The New England Journal of Medicine publishing group, the Skin of Color Society, the Student National Medical Association, American Medical Women's Association, and other organizations that are showing this commitment. The first step is to build awareness, and we've had over 1.5 million views of the site in the first year, and so we're really starting to build awareness, we're getting more people involved.

The key to the success is the involvement of the team joining. By that I mean medical students, for instance. Medical students are passionate about fixing some of this bias and injustice in medical care delivery. Project IMPACT is really a site to bring together the knowledge and the people that want to really work on problems.

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