According to recent studies, surgical site infections (SSIs) are the leading cause of hospital readmission following an operation. In hopes of catching those SSIs before readmission is necessary, scientists from the University of Wisconsin, Madison have developed an experimental app known as WoundCare.

In a test of the app, 40 vascular surgery patients were instructed to regularly upload photos of their wound sites to a server, along with answering a few onscreen questions regarding any symptoms they might be experiencing. They were instructed to do so daily for two weeks.

Nurses reviewed each submission within an average of 9.7 hours – throughout the course of the study, they detected seven wound complications, and one false negative was found.

Screenshots of the WoundCare app

While the patients found the app easy to use, the nurses stated that it was difficult to find time to review the submissions on top of an already heavy workload. For this reason, it is being suggested that the reviews would have to be handled by a dedicated transitional care program, as opposed to simply being added to nurses' duties.

"We set out to come up with a protocol where patients could become active participants in their care and allow us to be in closer communication and monitor their wounds after they leave the hospital," says lead study author, Dr. Rebecca L. Gunter. "This approach allows us to intervene at an earlier time rather than waiting for patients to come back in after the problem has already developed past the point of being able to manage it on an outpatient basis."

A paper on the research was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

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