One in four patients in any healthcare facility has a pressure ulcer at any given time, costing a 100-bed facility approximately $750,000/yr on treatment. Bedsores are a leading iatrogenic cause of death reported in developed countries. Part of prevention and treatment includes strong compliance and consistency in wound and wound care documentation. Poor documentation compliance can hide bedsore progression, leading to more serious wounds and secondary infections, yet standardized paper forms can be cumbersome and lengthy for caregivers already taxed for time.
To replace paper-based documentation, we have developed an app for wound and wound care documentation on Smartphone, tablet, or laptop. The application is intended for healthcare professionals in hospitals, personal care homes, and remote communities (telehealth) (professional version), family members caring for patients at home (lay version), and nursing students as an educational tool (educational version).
The app is being developed for AndroidTM, iPhoneTM, BlackberryTM 3G/4G and tablet devices. In addition to replicating all data fields on standard paper forms, the app includes secure login, data fields pre-filled with the last entry (to cue comparison for the current user), graphical and text summaries of all wounds, and detailed wound histories. Within a healthcare facility, an Ethernet interface to a server and backend database would store the data, or a wireless interface over a facility’s 802.11 network or cellular data service (3G/4G) would be established. Being IP centric, all public internet security protocols would be integrated.
The benefits over paper-based documentation include: (1) Intuitive guidance to show only those parts of the form applicable to a given patient, promoting more complete documentation; (2) embedded analysis of wound histories and alerts to programmable alarm conditions (overdue updates, rapid deterioration, long-duration wound, etc.); (3) telehealth integration - for home-based and remote-community caregivers, the ability to send and receive information from the discharging facility for consultation; (4) integration with a facility’s evolving electronic medical records; (5) integration with other community health and telehealth initiatives in a region.
The work will improve wound care documentation and thereby mitigate bedsore development and progression, improve patient experience and health outcomes, and thus reduce healthcare costs. Caregiver’s experiences in providing care will be enhanced, saving time over paper-based forms yet presented with more meaningful information. The work furthers eHealth and telehealth initiatives designed to improve healthcare, streamlining tasks that free up caregivers to exercise clinical judgment, promoting time and cost savings.
The number of mobile telecommunications technologies and apps under development for healthcare is increasing rapidly. The range of available 3G/4G apps for healthcare are not well catalogued, making it difficult to describe the current range of scope, specificity, and demonstrated value with certainty. To date, no similar app for wound care has been found.
The issue of bedsores and the relevance of electronic apps for documentation is universal. The app will be made available for download, initially for free and then at a modest cost. Business opportunities exist in back-end data hosting and management complying with privacy legislation.