Between computer applications, medical tablets, and machine learning, wound care is about to take a huge leap forward
While all doctors and nurses deal with injuries, the specific field of “wound care” is actually quite specialized and tricky work. Moreover, as any wound care specialist will tell you, the field can sometimes feel more like art than science.
In fact, “wound care” often doesn’t even have a formal curriculum for many health providers, and is a surprisingly learn-on-the-job skill.
Many hospitals only have a single wound care specialist on call at any time, which can create a huge burden of work for that lone nurse.
However, wound care specialists the world over can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that help is on the way. Between computer applications, medical tablets, and machine learning, wound care is about to take a huge leap forward.
Is your hospital ready to leverage these time and money-saving technologies?
How Does Digital Wound Care Work?
Digital wound care is a new field of healthcare technology, one that deploys cell phone or tablet cameras, artificial intelligence, and cloud technology to create an all-in-one solution for managing patient wounds.
Wound care apps (like Swift Medical and Tissue Analytics) can use a rugged medical tablet to take a photo of the wound in question, whether it be in a hospital setting or out in the field. This program then measures the depth of the wound, the width, the total surface area, and can even create a map of the injury. This information is then either calculated on the tablet itself or pushed to a cloud application that does the heavy lifting. The fact that medical tablets are antimicrobial is a vital piece of the puzzle as well. Working with open wounds requires a much higher degree of care when it comes to infection control.
Many of these apps use machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze the wound, comparing it against datasets filled with similar wounds. The idea is to create and maintain a digital visualization of the affected area, so it can be measured, monitored, and compared over time. Some apps and programs even have an option to send the wound visualization to actual, live doctors or nurses who have contracted with the program’s vendor to work as on-call wound care specialists.
While all of these ideas have an obvious impact on patient outcomes, they also alleviate some of a nurse’s massive workload. Assessment times drop, as does the amount of time spent doing paperwork.
That’s right – digital wound care could save specialists from the kind of paperwork-induced carpal tunnel and temporary insanity that goes hand-in-hand with a mountain of medical documentation.
Imagine: Every single interaction between nurse and patient, every tiny scrap of diagnosis and treatment, is already logged on the medical grade tablet, mobile phone, or in the app that powers both.
Reports of all wound care interactions in the hospital can be pulled at any time from the digital base, and can even be sorted by date, patient, type of injury, and a dozen other important factors.
The Best Uses for Digital Wound Care
Digital wound care isn’t just for standard cuts and contusions: like regular wound care, it can help with a whole host of common and uncommon injuries.
Keeping an eye on pressure ulcers (bed sores) is a great use for digital wound care. Bedsores are extremely common in every hospital, especially the most immobile patients or those with blood flow issues. These wounds can be snapped into the digital wound care environment with a mobile or medical tablet PC and monitored by multiple staff members to reduce load.
Wounds on the feet of diabetics can be tricky, and require constant maintenance and supervision – they’re not guaranteed to heal as quickly as other wounds and can take a quick turn for the worse depending on patient conditions. Rather than having the wound care specialist have to swing by constantly (multiplied by the number of patients with similar inflictions), digital wound care can allow the patient’s nurse to take regular photos with a medical tablet. Then, from an office or other central location, the wound care specialist can review all wounds in one shot without having to run from room to room.
Abrasions, surgical sites, and even chronic wounds all benefit from less waiting time, better digital measurements, and more clear accountability.
Alerts and Patient Information
Another benefit of digital wound care technology is that wound care communication can be made tighter, more effective, and easier to sort out from the firehose of medical alerts and email shooting around a hospital.
Digital wound care apps come with built-in functions that allow staff members to set up alerts and notifications right into a connected medical tablet. These alerts can then be sent to the wound care specialists and that specific patient’s doctor and nurses, and them alone. These alerts can take many forms: when it’s time to change dressings, when it’s time to clean or debride a wound, when it’s time to check on a wound, when an NPWT treatment is finished, etc.
These alerts are then bounced to the mobile phone or email of the relevant parties, keeping all necessary parties abreast of the situation while saving all of the other clinicians and staff from beeping machinery and irrelevant messages.
Standardization and Data Analysis
Finally, one of the great benefits of digital wound care comes at the meta scale — with all of this granular information about patient wounds, treatments, and outcomes all recorded in the same format, it becomes much easier for scientists, medical researchers, and healthcare groups to study the most effective trends.
This data can be collated, examined, and studied from every angle: type of wound, age of the patient, region, and a dozen environmental and medical history factors to find what wound care methods work best for what situations.
This standardization is vital for future research and development, making digital wound care particularly attractive to hospital admins and healthcare providers. Not only does digital wound care save nurses time and help patients at an individual bedside, but it improves technology and wound care strategies across the board when the data is analyzed and leveraged.
Two Birds, Meet One Stone
Hospitals are more swamped than they’ve ever been, be it through clinician shortage, a greater number of insured patients flooding exam rooms or a bevy of hospital closures shrinking available alternatives. Technology that can pull the double-edged trick of saving time for nurses while simultaneously helping more patients is the kind of breakthrough that simply can’t be ignored.
To learn more about the logistics of implementing digital wound care, and the kind of medical tablets and medical computers you might need to effectively pull it off, contact Cybernet today.