A new smartphone app called WoundCare enables patients to send images of their surgical wounds for monitoring by nurses. The app was developed by researchers from the Wisconsin Institute of Surgical Outcomes Research (WiSOR), Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin, Madison, with the goal of earlier detection of surgical site infections (SSIs) and prevention of hospital readmissions. A study of the app’s effectiveness appears on the website of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.
Due to the prevalence of SSIs, the research team decided to see if post-operative wound monitoring could be effectively achieved by having patients upload photos through the WoundCare app and answer a few brief questions to gather information not easily captured through images.
“Patients cannot identify [infections] and frequently ignore or fail to recognize the early signs of cellulitis or other wound complications,” the study authors wrote. “This drawback leads to the common and frustrating scenario where patients present to a routine, scheduled clinic appointment with an advanced wound complication that requires readmission, with or without reoperation. However, the complication may have been amenable to outpatient management if detected earlier.”
“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 study author and general surgery resident Rebecca
L. Gunter, MD.
In addition to benefiting patients, the ability to detect SSIs early saves money. The study authors note that SSIs are the most expensive hospital-acquired infection, costing an average of nearly $30,000 per wound-related readmission and an estimated $3-10 billion annually.
This article was adapted from information provided by the American College of Surgeons.
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