, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 3321-3326
Date: 16 Feb 2012

Use of Digital Patient Photographs and Electronic Medical Record Data as Diagnostic Tools in Japan

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Abstract

An electronic medical record (EMR) system was introduced to the University of Miyazaki Hospital, in Japan, in 2006. This hospital is the only one in Japan to store digital photographs of patients within EMRs. In this paper, we report on the utility of these digital photographs for disease diagnosis. Digital photographs of patients were taken at the time of hospitalization, and have been used for patient identification by medical staff. More than 20,000 digital photographs have been saved, along with examination data and medical history classified by disease, since the introduction of EMR. In the first part of the present study, we analyzed the facial cheek color of patients using photographs taken at the time of hospitalization in relation to diagnoses in six disease categories that were considered to lead to characteristic facial skin characteristics. We verified the presence or absence of a characteristic color for each disease category. Next, we focused on four diseases, Analysis of the facial skin color of 1268 patients found the same patterns of characteristic color. Overall, we found significant differences in complexion according to disease type, based on the analysis of color from digital photos and other EMR information. We propose that color analysis data should become an additional item of information stored in EMRs.