Apps can help improve wound care, according to eHealth NSW study

Researchers said the findings from their study can be used to guide the wide adoption of a digital wound care app across health services in the country and its further application in other health settings.

A recent study conducted in a health service in Australia’s New South Wales found improvements in wound documentation when using an AI-enabled mobile app

The research project evaluated the usability and effectiveness of Tissue Analytics (TA), a cloud-based mobile wound care app from the US, in assessing and managing wounds from both clinician and patient user perspectives. It was supported by a grant from eHealth NSW, the digital health-focused organisation within the New South Wales Ministry of Health.

FINDINGS

The study, whose findings were published in the International Wound Journal last week, was conducted in four healthcare settings in one NSW health service. Three sites were an aged care ward, a colorectal ward and an outpatient dermatology clinic in an unnamed 800-bed quaternary hospital. The fourth setting was primary care community services across the health service. 

Researchers chose the TA app as it met all requirements to meet the health service’s needs, including wound image capture, EMR and telehealth integrations, aggregated wound data, and algorithms for clinical decision support. The app analyses a wound’s dimensions and perimeters, surface area, and tissue composition and renders augmented visual images.

The study involved 11 nurses and two doctors who were trained to use the app with their patients. From June to October 2020, they trialled the app on 124 patients who form the intervention group. The data collected from them were compared with data from a group of 124 patients who received standard care from December 2019 to March 2020. The study had to pause in March 2020 due to the pandemic but immediately restarted after three weeks. Moreover, the clinician-participants also participated in a survey while a few patients were interviewed.  

According to the paper’s authors, the use of the mobile wound care app showed improvements in objective and quantitative wound information and consistency of documented care. 

The app also performed “well” in terms of functionality and user experience. Clinician-participants said they found it easy to learn the app, especially for assessment, tracking, and monitoring. They also claimed that patients using the app at home became “more engaged in their care” and “more adherent to the wound management regime” as the technology enabled them to instantly view the progression or deterioration of their wounds.

As per interviews, patient-participants said they were “strongly” satisfied by the telehealth capability of the app. The study’s authors also noted that using the app saved patients time and cost, especially for travel.

Moreover, the TA app enabled the health service’s provision of wound care during the pandemic. Specifically, it allowed for virtual wound care and minimised physical visits and consultations. Setting up the app has been an “iterative” and “positive” process for participating settings, the researchers stressed. 

WHY IT MATTERS

In the unspecified health service involved in the study, clinicians are still documenting their wound assessments in the progress notes section of their system’s EMR, which the researchers saw as an “inconsistent approach to documentation”. The researchers also pointed out that in many health services in the country, there are no databases or systems that facilitate monitoring, tracking, or benchmarking of wounds. 

The study pointed out that wound management requires good assessment. Faulty documentation can affect a doctor’s decision in choosing the best treatment option for their patients, as well as impact a patient’s wound healing process.

“Accurate and easy assessment facilitates effective wound management, which improves patient wound outcomes. Objective wound documentation also facilitates patient continuity of care, as reported by our clinician participants in this study,” the paper read. 

Researchers said the findings from their study can be used to guide the wide adoption of a digital wound care app across health services in the country and its further application in other health settings. 

THE LARGER TREND

The use of the TA app in an NSW health service has led to the establishment of the Virtual Wound Care Command Centre, which is looking into the advantages of having a centralised specialist wound care service that uses a digital wound app for remote interventions. 

In November, NHS Wales in the United Kingdom announced its trial of Healthy.io’s wound care app. The app captures wound images that are remotely assessed and monitored by clinical staff. The eight-month project, which started in early October, is funded by the Digital Solutions Fund of the Welsh government.

In other related news, Australian telehealth firm Coviu has received federal funding to develop a digital toolkit for telehealth wound care. It targets to introduce the toolkit on its platform in 2026.

Source: News Nation USA

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