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Understanding Racial Disparities in Wound Imaging

Alton R. Johnson, Jr, DPM, DABPM, FACPM, FASPS, CWSP In this interview with Dr. Johnson, he describes the use of imaging technology in wound care and how clinicians should be aware of the way skin pigmentation may be evaluated differently/ incorrectly with these systems.

Understanding Racial Disparities in Wound Imaging from HMP on Vimeo.


My name is Alton Johnson. I'm a DPM wound care specialist that currently practices at University of Michigan as a podiatrist and wound care specialist for the hospital system, both inpatient and outpatient care.

How is awareness of racial disparities in wound care essential, specifically in wound imaging?

Luckily enough, at the SAWC, I have a panel discussion tackling the conversation of racial disparities in wound imaging, particularly in wound imaging. The reason why we're tackling this particular topic is because with imaging, artificial intelligence, there is a discrepancy when it comes to skin types. So it doesn't necessarily mean race, but actual skin pigmentation. So that actually, you need to, as a specialty and then as a company who creates these devices, be able to have diverse patient populations involved in the research studies or the actual development of the technology. So that's essentially what we're discussing in that particular panel discussion.

What can clinicians do today to help address these racial disparities?

When it comes to addressing these disparities as a provider or as the wound care provider or specialist for these type of patients, it's essentially educating yourself on the awareness of it in the fact that if you are using a point-of-care system, such as just plain photography or if you're using demography or fluorescent imaging, just being aware that there are nuances that make the device not fully capable of seeing discrepancies in skin of color. So that's one of the ways to empower yourself as well. And also just understanding when it comes to those individuals as themselves, so not just as the wound, but actual social determinants of health, knowing the actual socioeconomic status of the patients that you're catering to. And it's like I said, once again, it's not necessarily based on race, it's just what goes on with those actual patients. So it doesn't necessarily even have to be skin tone or what's going on, but also being cognizant of a patient's social determinants of health. And then, there is studies out there that show Hispanic and Black populations, when it comes to wound care itself, are disenfranchised, so that's another discrepancy, and look at ways as a provider to read literature and read studies on how to empower those patients so they do believe in the science.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, HMP Global, its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.