We’re already seeing how IoT-enabled medical imaging is ringing the changes in diagnostics. Now 3D WoundCare promises similar innovation for the treatment of wounds and ulcers.
Current methods for monitoring the progress of wounds and ulcers are time consuming, manual and inaccurate. You can use rulers or callipers to measure the extent of a wound, or it can be traced with acetate paper.
However, volume measurements are rarely taken to indicate how deep the wound is – but this metric is crucial to assessing the risk to a patient, identifying trends and analysing the healing process.
Based in Swansea, Wales, health informatics company GPC has developed a software solution dubbed 3D WoundCare that can instantly determine the depth and surface area of an injury. The system uses a rugged Panasonic Toughpad tablet, with an integrated Intel RealSense 3D camera, to capture a photo of an ulcer or burn wound, which it then analyses it to determine its 3D profile.
An NHS sore spot
A Health Economics study revealed that there were an estimated 2.2 million wounds managed by the NHS in 2012/2013, putting significant strain on the NHS’s strained budgets.
“With the annual cost of ulcer care for the NHS at more than £5 billion, this effective and relatively inexpensive use of new technology can transform the way clinicians deal with one of the most common and difficult everyday challenges,” said Ian Wiles, Medical Director at GPC.
“The NHS’s own statistics show that it is dealing with more than 2,000 new pressure ulcers, commonly known as bed sores, per month; alongside numerous burn, arterial and venous ulcers, as well as other wounds. This solution is faster, more accurate, mobile and can be used by anyone – not just trained medical staff.”
The software ensures the photo is in focus and taken from the correct distance. Images can also be sent to media experts for review.
By automatically monitoring, generating graphs and analysing progress trends over time, a patient’s recovery can be more quickly and accurately tracked. This enables healthcare professionals to use their time more effectively and offers an objective way to identify best treatment practices.
Testing 3D WoundCare
Professor Steven Jeffery, Burns and Plastics Consultant Surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, provided vital input for the software’s development, putting the solution to use while treating burns victims.
“The ability to determine the size and depth of a wound without having to actually touch it is very useful to both the clinician and the patient,” said Professor Jeffery.
“The potential for cost savings by changing interventions earlier, reducing dressings and clinical resources and delivering better patient outcomes will be significant. Further cost savings could result from remote monitoring and diagnosis of wounds in the community.”
The 3D WoundCare solution is currently being trialled in numerous locations across the UK, as well as Canada, Australia and Taiwan. Thanks to this initial success, the system will be available more widely from February this year.
There is a natural home for IoT in healthcare, given its potential to boost efficiency, accuracy, and cost savings. 2018 will surely see this trend gather steam.