ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The lack of diversity in dermatology is recognized by doctors nationwide. Without adequate tools for treating skin of color, misdiagnoses may become more common.

However, there is a tool born right in Rochester that has helped to make a difference.

VisualDx has become the largest collection of medical images in the world. It is used with patients of all skin types to offer more precise treatment.

Dr. Nana Duffy, a dermatologist with Rochester Regional Health, has an encyclopedia of images used to help treat patients in the palm of her hand.

VisualDx has been put into practice for more than two decades and over the course of time, has especially helped to diagnose patients of color.

“We know from research studies if your patient has brown skin or black skin, your chance of making the wrong diagnosis goes up,” said Dr. Duffy.

Dr. Duffy says she uses the tool in roughly half of her interactions with patients every day to show the difference in diseases in all types and tones of skin.

“When doctors need a tool to help them diagnose or to educate, that the pictures look like the patient that’s sitting next to them. That’s the key thing we need. Without equity and information, we really have a biased medical care delivery system,” said Dr. Art Papier, CEO of VisualDx.

The field of dermatology is notably one of the least diverse in all of medicine. Dr. Duffy defines it as a call to action, and says changes are needed.

“You think of the percentage of the population that is black or Hispanic, the number of dermatologists that match that demographic is far, far below the mark that it should be. Only about three percent of the nation’s population is African American in terms of dermatologists,” she said.

Dr. Duffy calls it a staggering number compared to the differences that exist in treating specific skin types.

It’s also one of the reasons she finds VisualDx so important.

“If you were a dermatologist that didn’t have a lot of experience treating skin of color — or learning about disorders in skin of color — you can use VisualDx as an aid to reduce your risk of making a misdiagnosis,” said Dr. Duffy. “That’s why all of this really matters. Patient preference, experience, and comfort is important. But, what really matters at the end of the day is getting the right diagnosis.”

Dr. Duffy is one of only two dermatologists of color in upstate New York. The lack of representation in the medical field is second to the orthopedic surgery division.

VisualDx is now used by up to 100,000 doctors, medical students, and residents across the globe.