Significance of Virtual Wound Care in 2021

Key Points:

  • Virtual wound care has acted as a benison for individuals amidst the pandemic.
  • There is a burgeoning demand for telehealth in Canada, and globally.
  • Virtual health has the potential to become more thoroughly integrated into the healthcare delivery system.
  • Telehealth and telemedicine are becoming more and more important in-home health care.

Telemedicine in wound care helps a general practitioner to speak and engage in collaborative care with a specialist via telecommunications. Both professionals work together to co-manage the patients’ wounds and help to improve their health outcomes and well-being. This collaboration used to be difficult before the availability of this technology; leading non-specialized healthcare practitioners to set up a treatment plan without the skills and knowledge they needed. As a result, both and healthcare providers and patients/families felt frustrated for not achieving the desired outcome.

The collaborative care among specialized and non-specialized practitioners has effectively reduced the number of appointments and the time it takes for patients to be seen by a specialist allowing them to be treated sooner. The demand for wound care specialists has risen as the number of patients with hard-to-heal wounds increased. This led to the timely need to improve collaborative care and start patients on the appropriate wound management modalities.

Telehealth has helped expand access to care when the pandemic has made it unsafe and inconvenient for individuals to see their health practitioners. Actions taken by healthcare leaders today will decide if the full potential of telehealth is realized after the crisis has passed.

As of August 2020, 55% of Canadians have used a digital health service to have their physician send a prescription straight to their pharmacy without receiving a paper prescription, and another 49% had used telephone consultations with their healthcare provider.1

Virtual Wound Care: The Need of the Hour

The climate and geography of Canada are ideal for the adoption of long-distance medical care and education communications technologies. The usage of telemedicine applications in Canada has a long history, and in recent years, the number and variety of telehealth activities in Canada have seen unprecedented demand. Information was gathered for a competitive framework assessment of the Canadian telehealth business.

The construction of provincial and national infrastructure for the health information highway, improvements in the healthcare system, improved technical capability and speed, and government intervention and aid have all been recognized to encourage it. The change can be witnessed with the skyrocketing projects, the adoption by public organizations of telehealth technologies for a wider range of applications, and the accelerating amount of research being undertaken.

For a wide range of providers, the adaptation of their clinical practice may necessitate new ways of working, new approaches to care, significant improvements in information interchange, and more access to and integration of technology. On the other hand, better patient outcomes, enhanced convenience and access to care, and a more efficient healthcare system are all results beyond expectations. Professionals in the healthcare industry should consider making moves now to support such a shift and strengthen their position in the future.

Let us delve into the benefits of choosing wound care assistance virtually in 2022 and beyond.

Top Benefits of Virtual Wound Care

  • Immediate access to wound specialists and interdisciplinary teams: There are still substantial wait time for wound specialists and interdisciplinary teams to engaging patients in the right care pathway. Virtual wound care offers the ability to shorten wait times, reduce delay to start on the right care pathway and speed up specialized treatment.
  • Patient and healthcare providers (HCPs) access to individuals’ health records: Having ready access to health records for ALL members of the circle of care would increase prompt communication, expedite care, and improve access across all care settings.3
  • Digital health technology will increase patient access to HCPs by allowing patients to schedule appointments online, send secure emails, and make video conversations. Currently, less than 10% of physicians and nurse practitioners provide these services. Improvements in this area will reduce treatment delays, improve communication, and raise the productivity of physicians and other healthcare professionals. In England, for example, virtual care resulted in an 80 percent increase in patient follow-up visits without the need for extra support personnel.4

The Bottom Line

In wound care, telemedicine has allowed individuals to receive faster wound care guidance from a specialized professional, which rationally translates to a faster wound healing rate. This systematic review found that telemedicine in wound management did improve wound healing rates. However, whether it aided in reducing wound size over time is still unknown, thus more research analyzing clinical outcomes is needed to confirm its effectiveness in clinical settings.5

Patient-centered care, which includes incorporating patients in decision-making and working alongside them, is becoming increasingly vital as we strive to provide high-quality healthcare. Therefore, when patients are connected to virtual wound care, both HCP and patients/families/caregivers must be willing and ready to engage in collaboration because patients and/or their self-care support will be in charge of the management of their wounds at home after receiving the guidance of the wound care specialist through virtual care.

Telehealth and telemedicine are becoming more and more important in-home health care. Healthcare is catching up to technology, and the existing system has just scratched the surface of virtual care’s possibilities. Patients should expect to make fewer in-person visits to their health care professionals in the future and to receive more counsel from the comfort of their own homes.

References

  1. Conor Stewart, Use of digital health services in Canada in 2020, by type of services. Available from: https://www.statista.com [Accessed 30th September, 2021]
  2. Jocelyne Picot, Telemedicine and Telehealth in Canada: Forty Years of Change in the Use of Information and Communications Technologies in a Publicly Administered Health Care System. 2009; Vol. 4, No. 3. Available from DOI: 10.1089/tmj.1.1998.4.199
  3. Ibrahim S, Donnelle L, Regan S, Sidani S. Documentation systems in home care: Application of adapted unified theory of acceptance and use of technology model. Nurs Leadersh. 2019;32(2):48–70
  4. World Health Organization. Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020–2024. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2019.
  5. Lingjia – Goh, Effectiveness of Telemedicine for Distant Wound Care Advice towards Patient Outcomes: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Available from DOI:10.23937/2469-5823/1510070
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