By equipping nurses with the tools necessary to document wounds quickly and accurately, care can be prioritized more effectively. This continuity is especially important during times of the pandemic where we have experienced increases in nursing shortages and traveling nurses moving among hospitals. What has become even more critical is the requirement for a systematic approach to wound management.
The pandemic has resulted in upheaval in the staffing of many hospitals, with staff coming down with COVID-19, electing to become traveling nurses, or leaving the health care industry altogether. This has resulted in a need for new nursing staff, who may not yet have the confidence of more tenured staff. By utilizing digital imaging technology and clinical workflows, clinicians who are unfamiliar with wound care or with the facility protocols can still provide high-quality care to patients with wounds. Clinical workflows can be customized for each patient's needs and level of care. This modality ensures that patients receive the appropriate level of care at the appropriate time.1
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Training may still be required in how to assess a digital image of a wound, however, once this training is achieved, clinicians will be able accurately assess the wound, even when not at the bedside. In this way, nurses unfamiliar with wound care can take an image of the wound while with the patient and have someone more familiar with wound care assess the image at a later time. This technology can make your practice more efficient and it is a good way to evaluate wounds.2
Many digital wound assessment tools also include features that help account for differences in lighting or angle. Clinicians now have access to evidence-based practice at their fingertips resulting from the adoption of mobile-based applications. Both rapid reference to cutting-edge best practice and the capacity to query a clinical question in the middle of rounds are enabled because of this technology, without generating major delays. Clinical decision support apps will be continuously modified and made available to physicians for the benefit of the patient as traditional electronic medical records attempt to integrate clinical decision support into their large, existing systems.1
Not only does documentation serve as "proof" of care, but it also serves as a means of reporting wound progress and healing results. Optimizing documentation standards can be accomplished using a wound evaluation and monitoring system and wound measurement devices. Wound assessment and monitoring technology is used to measure, photograph, and document wounds. Numerous systems are related to software for electronic medical records. This enables facilities to provide reports on quality indicators and other metrics. Preventing and identifying pressure injuries early are critical for improving patient outcomes. Clinicians should utilize a thorough risk assessment method that identifies existing pressure injuries and other chronic wound risk factors. It is vital to do an initial skin assessment on admission (or within 24 hours) and use a guided clinical approach that incorporates new technologies that enable simple, swift, and precise documentation.3
Case studies show that hospitals are using information technology and digital imaging as part of their standard of care. This finding is in line with the idea that transparency and promoting patient well-being are important. Every patient who has a pressure wound has a digital photograph taken and a full assessment performed by a skilled wound care nurse within 24 hours of hospital arrival. Standardized evaluation and tracking are possible with the use of specialized software that connects to the electronic medical record. Members of an interdisciplinary team review the photographs and evaluations. This approach minimizes unwanted dressing disturbance, which can obstruct the healing process, thus increasing the risk of infection and causing extra pain and stress for the patient.4
Wound care patients who were treated at home with digital photography experienced faster and more complete wound healing. The use of digital technology to analyze and enhance wound management procedures resulted in higher wound healing rates and lower outcome-related expenses for home care wound patients. Digital photography is extremely beneficial in the care of patients who have complex wounds and who require a greater degree and frequency of care than is provided by home care programs.5
Optimizing documentation standards can be achieved through the use of a wound evaluation and monitoring system, as well as measuring devices to assess wounds. Utilizing advances in wound technology can ultimately enhance workflow efficiency and care coordination to detect issues earlier, intervene more effectively, and provide a new standard of care. Clinicians can document wounds quickly and consistently on admission, with automatic measurements and tissue specifics. In an era of wound care where clinicians are faced with staffing shortages and need support from alternative evaluation modalities, digital imaging and documentation technology has been proven to create an equal standard of care.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, HMP Global, its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.