Speaking to Health Europa, Dr med Patricia Sigam MPH, the co-founder and CEO of digitalMedLab™, discusses the revolutionary potential of mobile applications in wound care.
Mobile applications in wound care look set to transform the management and treatment of everything from diabetic foot problems and pressure ulcers to surgical wounds and skin abrasions. Before then, however, a number of obstacles must be overcome to ensure that their full potential can be utilised effectively in the healthcare setting.
To learn more, Health Europa spoke to Dr med Patricia Sigam MPH, the
co-founder and CEO of digitalMedLab™, the team behind innovative mobile solution +WoundDesk. Here, she discusses the value of digital technology in wound management, its implications for person-centred care, and barriers to its implementation.
What would you describe as the key advantages of mobile applications in wound care over conventional approaches?
Mobile technologies offer several advantages compared to conventional approaches.
Firstly, a mobile app can be used for several purposes. All relevant information about the patients is available in one place, anytime and anywhere. This means there is no need to carry all the documents when you are visiting patients at home or at the bedside.
Modern wound care is based on a holistic and multidisciplinary approach. The communication between providers has to be simple and fast. Mobile technology allows providers to interact in real time while sharing accurate and updated information about the patient. The mobile technology is used at the bedside to collect information, and this information can be shared with just a few clicks between all involved
The mobile application can also be used for internal communication. Using notifications, an institution can separate wound-specific communication from the rest and so avoid having wound information mixed in other emails (for example, information about a new wound product).
Access to updated medical information can be challenging. The conventional approach is to carry notebooks or written notices. Mobile applications can also integrate e-learning and decision support system tools like guidelines, care protocols, score calculators and all the relevant medical information.
Using mobile applications in wound care also allows care institutions to have a standardised process for wound assessment and wound documentation. This standardisation is needed to ensure that the monitoring of wound healing is compliant and made correctly, so that wound healing impairment can be detected at an early stage.
Data around wound care practice and outcomes are missing. With standardised wound assessment and documentation processes, it’s possible for care providers and decision makers to access statistics and analytics data around resources, material, patient outcomes and other key issues, leading to enhanced wound care quality management.
How might mobile applications in wound care be used to promote person-centred outcomes?
To achieve person-centred outcomes, it’s key to monitor closely the evolution of predictive parameters such as wound surface. If this monitoring is done manually, it’s an additional administrative burden for care providers. The monitoring should not take too much time and should be easy to perform. The usability of the solution plays a central role.
An easy-to-use digital solution encourages providers to assess and document every encounter. Once the data is collected it should also be analysed and made available to all involved providers, and this in real-time. The data have to be presented in a form that is easy to understand and actionable. With +WoundDesk, for example, all the assessment data are compiled, a severity score is calculated and the evolution of the healing is presented in easy-to-read graphs. On one screen, during the wound assessment process, the provider has a clear view of wound healing evolution for the specific patient
In the future, the integration of machine learning will improve the patient-centred approach as we will be able to combine images, big data and additional parameters for the assessment of wound healing (medication, past medical history etc.).
What are the biggest barriers to the widespread adoption of mobile applications in wound care?
The successful implementation of digital technologies and their widespread adoption depends on three factors:
- People: Healthcare providers have had a lot of bad experience with digital tools. Many digital solutions failed to achieve the expected performance and suffer from bad usability. The consequence for the provider is work overload. Digital solutions have to take the existing care process into account and enhance it. Ease-of-use is central to save providers time.
- Infrastructure: Bringing digital tools into an institution has a huge impact and indeed leads to the digital transformation of the care process. These transformations and their consequences have to be planned in the form of a digital strategy. These strategies should consider the infrastructure needed, security policies, maintenance, staff training and technology update. Knowing this, we developed at +WoundDesk a framework to guide and support our customers through the whole process of digital transformation with a brighter perspective than our own product.
- Technology: Every day new digital solutions come on the market. For the healthcare institution it is a challenge to connect all these solutions together because of the lack of interoperability. There is a need for a hub that can bring all the digital solutions together and ensure a comprehensive experience for the providers. With the rise of IoMT (Internet of Medical Things), the need for that hub will increase. With the initiative code (Cerner Open Developer Experience), Cerner has built an open and interoperable system that fits the need of interoperability (https://code.cerner.com/).
What benefits does +WoundDesk offer professional wound management?
Our mission is to make wound care easier. +WoundDesk enhances existing wound care processes in a number of ways:
- Reduced paperwork
- Standardised wound assessment and documentation
- Automated wound measurement
- Easy communication between providers
- Updated medical information available anytime and anywhere
- Valuable data analytics on wound care practice and patient outcomes (Fig. 1).
All these advantages are supported by high-level security and privacy practices, so the providers are confident and get more time for their patients.
This article will appear in issue 7 of Health Europa Quarterly, which will be published in November 2018.