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Grant-funded software system assists clinicians in the rapid identification of unfamiliar health threats such as those caused by bioterrorism, avian flu and unusual variations of common conditions

BUFFALO, NEW YORK; AUGUST 25, 2006-To further enhance Western New York's disaster preparedness, Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) Corporation implemented the region's first disease recognition software system to assist front-line physicians in the early detection of illnesses/conditions resulting from bioterrorism and/or chemical warfare incidents, radiation exposure, and emerging infectious diseases such as avian flu and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). Funded by CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) public health bioterrorism preparedness grants, the technology, called VisualDx, also helps clinicians identify common ailments with external visual symptoms on a day-to-day basis.

ECMC is one of eight designated Regional Resource Centers (RRCs) for Bioterrorism Preparedness in New York State tasked with leading regional efforts to enhance and refine response to bioterrorism, outbreaks of infectious diseases and other public health threats and emergencies. ECMC's region encompasses all eight WNY counties (Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegheny) as well as the international border between the United States and Canada.

The image-based VisualDx software system is already helping ECMC's doctors answer the question "What is this?" when faced with a patient with an out-of-the-ordinary fever and rash, acute lower respiratory infection, variation of a common skin condition or a potential adverse reaction to a medication. Available in the Infectious Disease and Emergency Departments, the system helps clinicians by providing immediate access to more than 12,500 medical photographs and critical diagnosis and treatment information for over 700 diseases, including lower respiratory infections like avian influenza and conditions potentially linked to terrorism. To use the technology, ECMC clinicians enter their patient's symptoms, signs and other clinical findings such as lesion type, body location, medical history, medications, etc., and the technology displays photographs and key clinical information on all relevant diagnoses for quick, side-by-side comparison to their patient.

"I have used the Logical Images VisualDx program with my Infectious Diseases team at ECMC to try to generate a prioritized differential diagnosis for difficult cases and it has been helpful. The most recent cases fell into the areas of the program's traditional strengths, "said John K. Crane, M.D., Ph.D., Clinical Director of the Department of Infectious Disease, S.U.N.Y. at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and Attending Physician at ECMC. "The high-resolution color photos are excellent."

"Everything must happen very quickly in the Emergency Department, since a rapid response can improve the patient's outcome and prevent the spread of disease. The faster we can identify the agent causing an illness, or a specific disease, the quicker we can initiate the appropriate treatment," explained Dietrich Jehle, M.D., Director of Emergency Services for ECMC and Vice Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo.

"We are pleased to be the first in Western New York to implement a solution that is a vital component of our disaster preparedness plan as well as a way to improve daily care through rapid recognition and treatment," said ECMC Regional Resource Center and Infection Control Director Charlene Ludlow, R.N., B.S.N., C.I.C.

Because VisualDx helps fulfill several Federal preparedness requirements, ECMC was able to implement the technology using CDC Bioterrorism Preparedness grant funds.

In addition to infectious disease and emergency doctors, medical students and residents use the system as a learning and reference tool through its deployment in the ECMC academic medical center library.

While ECMC is the first to implement VisualDx in Western New York, the system is used in other hospitals throughout the United States, including those within Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Delaware, New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles County and at U.S. Army facilities. VisualDx is produced by Logical Images, Inc., a developer of image-intensive recognition and visual knowledge software.

The Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) Corporation encompasses an advanced academic medical center with 550 inpatient beds and 156 skilled nursing home beds, on- and off-campus health centers, over 40 outpatient specialty care clinics, and the Erie County Home, a 586-bed skilled nursing facility. The medical center serves as the regional center for trauma, burn, rehabilitation, and a major teaching facility for the State University of New York at Buffalo. The ECMC Corporation is dedicated to being Western New York's hospital of choice through excellence in patient care and customer service

News Contacts:

- Joe Cirillo, Director of Public Relations & Communications, ECMC: 716-898-4300 or jcirillo@ecmc.edu

- Steve Cutrona, Director of Marketing, Logical Images, Inc.: 585-427-2790 or scutrona@logicalimages.com

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