New study shows that teledermatology can reduce pressure ulcer severity

It is widely accepted that teledermatology is useful for clinicians working with client groups spread across large geographical areas. However, a new study has investigated its benefit in bedridden patients in both rural and urban areas.

Researchers looked at four previously published studies, which focused on the following Japanese patient groups:

  • Investigation of the condition of 83 patients who had developed pressure ulcers before hospital admission
  • Evaluation of 53 patients with pressure ulcers receiving care at home
  • A survey of the wound care concerns of 321 home care nurses
  • The efficacy of a teledermatology system that aimed to provide early intervention for chronic wounds.

Of the patients in these four studies, 63% of those who developed pressure ulcers were over 70 years old; 84% were bed-bound; and 66% developed tissue damage at home. Similarly, 74% of patients who developed pressure ulceration at home lived alone or with an elderly partner, with only 19% being seen by a specialist. The survey of home care nurses also showed that there are serious problems with referral to specialists, with 70% of responses involving complaints around medical provision to patients cared for at home. The new teledermatology system had 17 referrals — 82% by patients, families, and home care nurses. Approximately half of these patients were bedridden, and 82% were currently living at home — 12 cases were from urban areas.

Overall, the authors found that teledermatology is useful for isolated patients as it provides information to help them manage wounds at home, thereby preventing pressure ulcers from developing and avoiding worsening of existing damage. Based on these preliminary findings, the authors conclude that teledermatology has the potential to prevent the worsening of pressure damage in bed-bound home-based patients as well as offering ease of treatment. Crucially, this benefits patients in both rural and urban settings.

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Picture: USDA @flickr


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