Stick Out Your Tongue!

I am lucky enough to share a co-working space with a woman who recently graduated from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. As a result, I get to be the beneficiary of health advice that lies beyond the parameters of traditional Western approaches. Rather than the anatomic or organ systems approaches I’m accustomed to, TCM’s approach is based on “the ancient Chinese perception of humans as microcosms of the larger, surrounding universe—interconnected with nature and subject to its forces. The human body is regarded as an organic entity in which the various organs, tissues, and other parts have distinct functions but are all interdependent. Health and disease relate to balance of the functions.” Searching for an analogy when reading this translation of the Classic Chinese Medicine text Huángdì Nèijīng, I think of an interactive weather map of the body. Turns out that TCM practices also rely heavily on maps of one kind or another.

One of the diagnostic foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is tongue evaluation. This practice assesses a patient’s general energetic condition. Because the tongue is positioned somewhere between the interior and exterior of the body, it is particularly well suited to detect imbalances. Different areas of a patient’s tongue correspond to the different channels of the body. The color, texture, shape, and regions of the tongue are mapped and provide clues to diagnosis and therapeutic approach and progress. In addition, the tongue is also particularly well suited for photography in a clinical environment, provided the patient is a willing participant. A series of chronological photographs of the patient’s tongue can also provide a vivid picture of their clinical course and the effectiveness of therapies.

Once a diagnosis is made, TCM practitioners may use acupuncture to treat imbalances in the body. In acupuncture, small thin needles are placed in points along meridians of the body clear blockages and release “qi,” the body’s energy. Of the over 350 points along 12 major meridians of the body can also be best represented on a map of the human body. For an acupuncturist to track the points that they use in treatment, they typically record the point in a record by number. However, a visual map of a human body be a great addition to an acupuncture record and would likely be a more efficient means of recording and annotating these procedures.

TCM practice, along with a litany of other Western subspecialties can leverage files with annotation. This can be a valuable tool in developing a comprehensive and information-rich medical record. This can also be a valuable tool in the education of patients. DrChrono’s FreeDraw feature provides a seamless way to integrate images and annotate. But it’s up to the practitioner to find creative and efficient ways to use it.


Have you found a way to use FreeDraw that we should know about? Let us know.