App brings more consistency to monitoring of diabetic wounds
When McGill University's Dr. Sheila Wang was in medical school, she noticed that doctors and nurses simply used rulers to measure the dimensions of patients' diabetic skin ulcers. Figuring that there had to be a more precise, objective method of doing so, she went on to create the new Swift Skin and Wound app.
The monitoring of such chronic wounds is very important, as diabetics often have reduced nerve function in their extremities. This means that they won't be alerted to the worsening of skin ulcers via increased pain, potentially allowing those wounds to progress to the point that amputation is necessary.
That's why Wang and colleagues developed Swift Skin and Wound, which uses a smartphone's camera to compare the current area of a wound to a marker of a known size, which is placed upon the skin. It can additionally incorporate a phone-mounted FLIR infrared camera, which detects infection via increased skin temperature.
In use by Montreal's McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) since 2016, the app has recently been shown to produce more consistently accurate readings than a ruler, and to be as accurate as a measuring tool known as a digital planimeter. Unlike a planimeter, however, the app allows clinicians to store and track measurements over time, and to share them with physicians in other locations via the internet. This could be a particularly valuable feature in remote regions, where high staff turnover means that multiple successive clinicians end up tracking the same wound.
"Many of my patients are diabetic and are dealing with slow-healing foot ulcers; this app offers a way to clearly document and quantify the size of the ulcer to ensure it is actually healing, and if it is not healing, I can change strategies," says Dr. Greg Berry, Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at the Montreal General Hospital of the MUHC. "I can concretely show them that what we are doing is working. They get on board and are more devoted to the treatment plan because they see it is successful."
The app is now being used in over 1,000 healthcare facilities throughout Canada and the US. It is the subject of a paper that was recently published in the journal PLoS ONE.
Scientists at the University of Wisconsin, Madison are also developing a wound-monitoring app, which checks for surgical site infections.
Source: McGill University Health Centre