Trial proves value of app in documenting bedsores

Pressure ulcers, or bedsores as they are commonly referred to, are no laughing matter. As a paper published last week points out, bedsores are a "leading iatrogenic cause of death in developed countries and significantly impact quality of life for those affected." In addition, they will be an increasing public health concern as the population ages, according to the authors. The good news is that mobile healthcare can help.

The article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reports on the findings of a user trial of an mHealth bedsore documentation app conducted in a 387-bed healthcare facility in Winnipeg, Canada. The app, developed for Android smartphones and tablets, provides an electronic medical record for chronic wounds, replacing nurses' paper-based charting, and is positioned for integration with facility's larger eHealth framework. 

Wound images (photographs) were a key benefit of the app during the user trial. Showing a wound photograph to patients was particularly useful when the wound was in a location that the patient would otherwise not be able to see, such as the buttocks, back of the legs or under the foot. 

"The user trial yielded insights regarding the software application's design and functionality in the clinical setting, and highlighted the key role of wound photographs in enhancing patient and caregiver experiences, enhancing communication between multiple healthcare professionals, and leveraging the software's telehealth capacities," states the paper.

According to the authors, the app offers three intended benefits over paper-based charting of chronic wounds, including: the capacity for remote consultation (telehealth between facilities, practitioners, and/or remote communities); data organization and analysis including built-in alerts, automatically-generated text-based and graph-based wound histories including wound images; and tutorial support for non-specialized caregivers. 

"The wound care app, as a prototype mHealth application can contribute to improved documentation and compliance of wound care, while offering distinct benefits in the form of telehealth capabilities and automated data organization and interpretation that provides the user with information easily overlooked in a paper-based file," concludes the article. "While electronic documentation is certainly not the sole or defining factor between poor patient outcomes and good patient outcomes, electronic documentation can potentially contribute to more effective communication and collection of patient information, resulting in more effective patient care."

In related news, last month a new University of Michigan study found that the data Medicare uses to publicly report hospital rates of patients developing bedsores is not an accurate source for comparing hospitals on how well they prevent the condition.

To learn more:
- read the article