Why Wound Care EMR is Critical for Tele-Wound Care

Tele-wound care is the best option for old, disabled and unwell patients with multiple co-morbidities who have chronic wound care requirements. Such patients may not be able to visit a clinic without an assistant and often require multiple consultations with long term follow-up. A tele-wound care system connects the patients located in rural settings, nursing homes or home care programs to wound care specialists in hospitals or clinics so that proper wound care is delivered on time. However, it is vital that the remote specialists have immediate access to patient information to provide tele-wound consultations, and wound care EMR is the right option to help achieve that.

Wound telemedicine systems are basically divided into two types such as:

  • Store and Forward (SAF) System – SAF system is called asynchronous communication system in which the wound and patient details are recorded during the visit, stored and later forwarded to wound care specialists for remote review or consultation. The data that is recorded, stored and forwarded may include simply a digital image of a wound or a more complex data set comprising wound measurements, characteristics, healing rate and wound management details. SAF systems are used in day to day clinical care.
  • Real Time Video Conferencing (VC) System – VC refers to a synchronous communication system that allows real-time interaction between the clinician and patient with the remote consultant. Wound care specialists can provide high quality care in this case as they can see the patients’ wounds in person and closely watch their body language to determine the appropriate care. However, all parties must be available at the same time to provide the remote consultation in this case. VC is a better choice for clinic-based interaction with a remote center.

There exists a hybrid system of SAF and VC as well. In this system, data being forwarded through an SAF system is combined with real-time VC so that it is possible to review detailed data during a synchronous or real-time interaction between the wound care clinician (physician or nurse), patient, and remote expert.

Major Benefits of Tele-Wound Care

Many studies have concluded that the quality of wound care delivered through tele-wound care system is comparable to face-to-face consultation. The main benefits of this system are:

  • Significant reduction in the number of hospitalizations and expensive ER (emergency room) visits
  • As there are no transportation costs, the overall costs can be reduced significantly by treating patients at home for chronic wounds
  • Patients can receive more consistent and coordinated evidence-based care owing to enhanced communication among providers. This will reduce the healing time of chronic wounds and improve the quality of life for patients.

Significance of a Specialized EMR

Whether it is SAF, VC or hybrid system, it is necessary to take the patient’s vital signs at the time of visit and enter them along with relevant notes into the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system in order to share information among multiple care providers. Getting the context of patient history with correct details at the earliest time can ensure better patient care, especially in the VC system. Using a generalized EMR may prove too cumbersome in this case. It is because this type comes loaded with all types of features and functionalities regardless of users’ preferences and workflow. So it takes time for care providers to search and extract the wound details they want, which may hamper the effectiveness of the tele-wound care system.

On the other hand, EMR designed specifically for wound care has the following benefits:

  • It is customized with the library of required forms and templates so that it is easy to extract the required information
  • Since it is designed according to the workflow of a particular practice, it can track wound healing and quickly correct discrepancies that may exist
  • It requires less time to implement and adopt a specialized EMR

Wound care EMR supported with an interface for physician and nurse can further enhance the communication between multiple providers in a telemedicine system.