Image: A novel app helps patients and doctors monitor wound healing (Photo courtesy of WISC).
The healing of postoperative surgical wounds can be effectively monitored with a new smartphone app, according to a new study.
Developed at the University of Wisconsin (WISC; Madison, USA), WoundCheck is a remote wound monitoring protocol that uses smartphones to send images of a post-surgical wound, together with a short, patient-administered questionnaire to monitoring staff. To assess the mobile health application, 40 vascular surgery patients were trained to use it during their inpatient stay. After hospital discharge, they completed the app protocol daily for an additional two weeks. The inpatient team then reviewed submissions daily and contacted patients for concerning findings.
The results showed that 45% of participants submitted data every day for the two-week period, with an overall submission rate of 90.2%. The daily submissions were reviewed within an average of 9.7 hours of submission, with 91.9% of submissions reviewed within 24 hours. In all, the researchers detected seven wound complications, with one false negative. Participant and provider satisfaction was universally high. The study was published on January 19, 2018, in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (JACS).
“We set out to come up with a protocol where patients could become active participants in their care and allow us to be in closer communication and monitor their wounds after they leave the hospital,” said lead author Rebecca Gunter, MD. “This approach allows us to intervene at an earlier time, rather than waiting for patients to come back in after the problem has already developed past the point of being able to manage it on an outpatient basis.”
Telemedicine offers the opportunity to leverage technology to remotely monitor recovery during the transitional period between hospital discharge and routine clinic follow-up. However, many existing telemedicine platforms are episodic, replacing routine follow-up, rather than equipped for continued monitoring; they include only low-risk patient populations and those who already have access to and comfort with the necessary technology, and transmit no visual information.
University of Wisconsin