A Hull-based company and a consultant dermatologist from the Spire Hull and East Riding Hospital have developed a pioneering online ‘telewoundcare solution’ which offers patients a quicker diagnosis and a structured care and skin treatment plan.
The system Medsystem Online allows consultants to care for wounds remotely without having to meet patients face-to-face, freeing up their time for other things and saving health services around the world millions of pounds every year.
Wound care is one of the highest costs to the NHS, both misdiagnoses and incorrect referrals. It can take up a huge amount of nursing time and lead to infections, slow healing and in some cases admissions to hospitals. Wounds, especially among the elderly or diabetic patients, may be caused by a simple accident in the home such as catching their shin on a table corner, but can take a long time to heal and need regular changes to dressings. If the correct dressing is not used then a wound can take years to heal in some cases.
Recognising this demand Meddserve and Dr James Britton have piloted an online health system, which can be used in both private practices and NHS medical centres.
The technology manages the care of wounds online, allowing nurses to carry out the consultation in patients’ homes and then send their report to a specialist for diagnosis or treatment.
Using a computer and internet connection, practice nurses draw on a 3D body image the site of a wound and record important information such as past treatments used.
They can also take photos of wounds and then send the picture as a referral to the doctor, who then logs on, using a secure log in, to view the images, make a diagnosis and advise a bespoke treatment plan.
The system takes out the referral process to a dermatology department which could take anywhere up to 12 months, by which time the wound may have deteriorated or infection spread to other areas within the patient. It also allows the wound to be measured to the nearest mm treatment using the built-in DICOM (digital imaging communication) viewer.
The system mirrors that of a full medical consultation, using standard symptom screens that are normally used by doctors. Being ‘online’ also means that this type of ‘telehealth’ consultation is available to any consultant who has access to the internet, wherever they are in the world.
Speaking about the technology, Dr Britton, said: “I can view a full history of a patient and see the images that I need zooming in and even drawing on the pictures to measure areas, which is crucial to making the correct diagnosis and monitoring the success of treatment and patient progress. Working closely with general practices to tailor a treatment plan for each patient has certainly healed patients’ wounds sooner.”
Mr Arumugam, technical director of Meddserve, added: “We have developed in-house with our director of design Mark Spanton who has world-class expertise in new media design. We have therefore been able to create the most advanced medical imaging software to allow doctors to refer, view and interact with the images that are needed to make a diagnosis. This breaks down barriers to experts meaning a patient can be anywhere in the world and still get expert care. We have even embedded voice technology so healthcare professionals can leave voice messages for each other.”
The easy-to-use system is already being used in the dermatology department at the Spire Hospital in Hull.
Meddserve is looking to roll the technology out as an integrated service in hospitals around the world to provide a new way of delivering healthcare.