16 June, 2017
Once only imagined in sci-fi movies, today, technology can monitor one’s health. Telehealth is an industry experiencing rapid growth due to technological advancements and the time and cost savings it brings to both the patient and provider. In fact, a UC Davis Study to determine cost savings of pediatric telehealth versus rural emergency departments revealed that telehealth saves on average $4,662 per use.
To demonstrate the vast benefits telehealth provides, a vehicle called TED (short for Telehealth Education Delivered) is on a mission to showcase the newest technologies in this space. The vehicle is on its third tour, driving across the country providing education and training for VA medical centers. TED shares knowledge on a range of solutions that demonstrate the many ways telehealth can improve healthcare for patients living in remote areas or those with limited access to the healthcare they need.
When people think of telehealth, their first inclination is often to visualize video conferencing and medical health records on a screen. While remote consultations are one aspect of telehealth, with new technology advancements there is so much more that patients and providers are now able to explore.
One of TED’s partners, ARANZ Medical, enables and enhances an especially unique, but extremely important aspect of patient care: wound care. With lasers and three-dimensional modeling, this technology uses a purpose-built camera to take an image of a wound as well as rapidly and accurately generate measurements of it.
ARANZ Medical’s SilhouetteStar camera connects to a software application that can take the wound measurements and generate graphs to show healing trends for doctor analysis. This system also stores the information, allowing a physician to track the healing process over time.
This technology offers many of the same benefits as other telehealth technologies, such as increased provider efficiency, as well as greater access to healthcare, time and cost savings for the patient, who may be unable to travel a long distance to their nearest healthcare provider.
Using this wound imaging and measurement technology, a community healthcare provider can remotely measure and monitor wounds and make decisions on the best care for that patient. If a wound care specialist is required, then the community healthcare provider may be able to simply share the data with a specialist who can remotely view the data and recommend the best course of treatment, saving the patient the time and discomfort of travelling to see the specialist.
For example, if a patient’s wound had been undergoing treatment for weeks, and the device measurements showed a lack of improvement, the physician could request an alternative treatment or ask that the patient come into the main facility for a more extensive review. Conversely, the remote wound assessment may show a steady improvement, eliminating the need for the patient to travel to the medical center.
Thanks to these telehealth advancements, patients can avoid inconvenient, expensive journeys, and most importantly, any additional pain or challenges that non-remote treatment brings with it.
Not only does this wound care technology improve access to healthcare and communication between patients and doctors, but it also vastly improves the accuracy of wound measurements. Wound care today is often a subjective practice. Doctors are still using rulers and eyeballing wounds to take guesstimates on the sizes, which are often crude and alarmingly inaccurate for today’s medical standards.
Silhouette provides caregivers with a level of accuracy that manual measurement cannot provide. This tool is a great innovation in the telehealth space and is also useful within the hospital environment. As part of their routine care rounds, nurses are able to image and document wounds with Silhouette and then easily share the information with the specialist when they are available to review the treatment plans for each patient.
The use of telehealth wound care technology has many benefits for patients and providers alike. For patients, it enables them to be seen and assessed at home, reducing the time and discomfort of traveling to see a healthcare provider. For providers, Silhouette captures an accurate record of a wound’s healing progress that can be accessed from anywhere at anytime. With this amazing innovation in the healthcare space, patients can realize enhanced access to care and more accurate treatment without a financial burden.
Follow TED on its journey here