New diagnostic software being used in South Dakota hospitals, clinics Physicians across rural South Dakota now have a powerful new tool to help them diagnose disease. The new web-based system gives rapid access to more than 17,000 medical images for some 900 diseases by simply entering observations, symptoms, medical histories and test results into the search tool. It was funded with federal grant dollars to the Department of Health. "This VisualDx® system helps clinicians more quickly and accurately identify unusual and unfamiliar diseases and conditions," said Doneen Hollingsworth, Secretary of Health. "This is especially important in more rural facilities that might not have infection control specialists, dermatologists and other specialty physicians. It can be difficult for providers in such settings to diagnose unusual or rare illnesses they seldom see, such as anthrax or even measles." Hollingsworth said the visual nature of the system is critical because half of all diseases demonstrate a skin or pattern clue. The VisualDx® system was created by Logical Images of Rochester, NY, a leader in digital visual health care tools for both professionals and consumers. The department funded its placement in 82 South Dakota clinics and hospitals through $149,450 in federal disaster preparedness grant funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Nearly 45,000 images have already been viewed on South Dakota's VisualDx® webpage since the system was installed early this fall. November usage was 44,275 images viewed. "This system helps us be better prepared for future public health threats, from bioterrorism events to disease outbreaks, but it's also something that we can use and benefit from today," said Hollingsworth. "This is one more example of how we've worked hard in South Dakota to make sure our federal bioterrorism grant dollars strengthen our existing health care system at the same time they build our preparedness capacity."