Results of innovative pilot featured in Health Informatics New Zealand
Wound care can be challenging, especially for providers with multiple patients with chronic conditions in remote areas. Technology like Net Health® Tissue Analytics, which uses machine learning to analyze wound images and automatically measure healing, is changing the paradigm globally and bringing value to wound care nurses and patients alike.
The success of a program developed by a district health system in New Zealand and Tissue Analytics is just one example of how wound care innovators tap into its many benefits. Winning New Zealand’s War Against Wounds with AI and Dedicated Specialty Nurse-Led Services is featured in this month’s Health Informatics New Zealand (HINZ).
Covering a Diverse Geography and People
Last year the leadership of Te Whatu Ora MidCentral – Health New Zealand partnered with Tissue Analytics to create a pilot using digital imaging to track, monitor and report on the progress of the wounds that most impact the 180,000 people in the District. Covering a geographically remote and diverse area, the District includes several groups hard hit by chronic wounds like diabetic ulcers. While wounds can affect anyone, they especially strike the elderly, socioeconomically disadvantaged and those of Māori, Pacific, and South-Asian ethnicities, which comprise many of the District’s patients. Some 85% of patients Batten and her colleagues see are home-based, many in remote areas. However, things like age, cyclones, travel limitations and other issues make it challenging to complete home visits.
Led by Lesley Batten, RN, MA, Ph.D., Associate Director of Nursing, and her colleagues, the value of digital imaging was brought home to Batten following a visit with a patient who showed her some images he had taken of his wound with a personal camera. She compared that to the stacks of files her team typically produced documenting wound care and knew there had to be a better way. She and her team found the solution with Net Health Tissue Analytics and launched a pilot in 2022.
One of the goals of the pilot was to obtain answers to critical questions such as could the technology map and graph measurements over time, create efficiencies for busy wound care nurses, and enable better engagement with patients.
The results of the pilot showed that all of those goals were met. Batten notes that one of their most surprising findings was how well the technology engaged patients. “Some patients had never seen their wounds as they were on areas hard to view,” she recalls. “The degree of engagement has been brilliant, and that helps patients feel empowered and heal faster,” said Batten.
Another important goal for Batten was to assure her nurses that technology would never replace dedicated providers. “We believe in AI for wound care documentation, but we also promise never to forget there is a person behind the image making the clinical decisions,” she says.
The pilot results were impressive and have led the District to extend its trial agreement with Tissue Analytics with plans to expand its use to the entire district nursing service later this year.
Read more about the program and its results in the article here.