Understanding the Art of Medical Illustration

May 27, 2017 Joseph Hernandez 0Comment

The world of medical science is changing rapidly, particularly because it is embracing new technologies. One of those is the field of mobile medical photography, which is now combined with medical illustration. But just what is medical illustration? Essentially, it is a method that is used in order to record and analyze anatomical, medical, and related information. It is an applied art, but a unique one, and it is created in a team of animators, medical photographers, and physicians. Officially, it is part of biomedical communication.

Meanwhile, a medical illustration is an artistically created image using a tangible, virtual medium. This now includes smartphones and other such mobile devices. They medical illustration is also linked to biological information, and to patient records. Put together, it creates visual images of what is going on with a patient, sometimes focusing on a specific part of their body.

Medical photographers, meanwhile, are specialists who work together with others in the field of healthcare and take a scientific approach to what is essentially an art. They are experienced photographers, but also have extensive medical knowledge. The best of the best also have graphic design experience. Put together, they are able to create resource materials that can improve patient care and/or medical education.

Where Will You Find Medical Photography?

Medical photographers, obviously, work in healthcare settings, but they can also be found in educational settings and government agencies. Their art stems from the ancient art of making sculptures of anatomical models. Today, medical photographs are also used to create animations for students, and to explain diagnosis to patients. Their work is commonly seen in:

  • Patient records.
  • Medical publications.
  • Educational tools and resources.
  • Mobile health applications.
  • Health games.
  • Dental offices.

Key Things to Remember

There are a number of key challenges that medical photographers and illustrators have to deal with. These include:

  • That many are not medically trained, but have to take photographs and images of very sensitive information, including open wounds, broken bones, and more.
  • That there is a significant confidentiality issue, particularly if the person has any identifying features on the photograph that has been taken, which must all be managed properly through consent forms.
  • That some individuals do not want to have their photographs taken, often for personal or religious reasons.
  • That there is a serious issue with safety and security. Because all information is now stored on mobile devices and/or online, which means it is subject to hacks and data loss, it is vital that proper procedures are in place to protect data and confidentiality.
  • That a small error in a photograph, particularly if it is used in an educational setting, can cause an entire group of future healthcare providers to learn incorrect information.

These key challenges must not be underestimated. That said, they can be overcome through sensitivity and general common sense. It is time to embrace new technology, which includes mobile technology and mobile photography. Seeing the influence of this on healthcare outcomes for entire populations has been a fascinating journey.

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