In the age of information, the use of data is making inroads in daily life from applications as simple as the songs delivered via music streaming apps and the driving routes that appear via smartphone maps.
And likewise, nearly every industry from transportation to entertainment is utilizing massive amounts of “big data” to develop more efficient and personalized delivery of common goods and services. In health care, there are many examples, such as predictive analytics provided by wearable devices and even cancer research that depends on large data sets of patient information.
At Mass General Hospital in Boston, big-data fueled artificial intelligence (AI) has even been shown to identify brain hemorrhages as accurately as humans — providing a great opportunity to improve the approach to intracranial hemorrhages, or “brain bleeds,” which are the second-most common subtype of stroke.
From a diagnostic standpoint, AI is becoming a key driver to early detection and subsequent treatment of a host of health conditions and events from cardiac arrest to wound care.
“Massive, real-world data sets are the key to answering the most pressing questions facing health care today,” says Carlo Perez, founder and CEO of Toronto-based Swift Medical, a technology platform that streamlines clinical and administrative wound care management workflows. “Wound care is no exception.”
A rising and costly health care concern
Wound management is among health care’s greatest clinical concerns, with more people living with chronic wounds than the number of people with breast, colon, lung cancers and leukemia combined. Chronic wounds are responsible for more than $96 billion in financial impact annually, affecting 8.5 million people each year and with 40 million beds requiring monitoring of wounds.
The problem also plagues health care providers, as wounds can quickly become problematic, leading to life-threatening infection and hospitalization. Additionally, the issue is a financial one: Providers report 44% measurement errors, rejected reimbursements and $4.7 billion in wound-care related lawsuits per year — all of which could be mitigated through the use of big data applied to wound care practices.
For home health providers already facing staffing challenges, wound documentation is a time-consuming and costly process.
“Documenting wounds adds three hours to a nurse’s 12-hour workday and is one of the reasons why 72% of nurses stay after their shift,” Perez says. “That’s because wound information is documented twice — at the point of care and into the electronic health record (EHR).”
Using big data to revolutionize wound care
In many cases, clinicians use the “ruler method” to measure wounds, and only three measurements are documented: length, width and depth. This method has been shown to overestimate wound area by as much as 44%.
But by taking advantage of massive data sets of wound information, home health care providers can identify, document and assess patients’ wounds with a much greater level of precision, saving time and precious resources. Clinicians collect data using the Swift Skin & Wound app, which is transmitted digitally to a web-based platform, eliminating the problem of double-documentation, and enabling the entire care team to access needed information about the wound condition.
“With their nurses putting in extra hours to measure and document wounds, home health agencies miss out on opportunities to increase their revenue by visiting more patients,” Perez says. “The use of the [big data] platform to photograph, measure and document wounds has been shown to reduce clinical assessment time by 57%.”
To learn more about Swift Medical’s digital wound care platform, visit Swift Medical.