It used to take Kara Couch, MS, CRNP, CWCN-AP, CHWS up to 30 minutes to document a single patient’s pressure injuries upon admission. Before implementing digital technologies into her workflow, ensuring accurate documentation for patient admissions was time-consuming and inconsistent and kept her away from her true calling: providing hands-on patient care.
As the director of Inpatient Wound Care for George Washington University Hospital (GWUH) in Washington, D.C., Kara understands the importance of demonstrating proper care for any pressure injuries acquired or exacerbated in the hospital. Improper care and prevention can lead to lower quality ratings for a hospital, significant cuts in reimbursement, and, most importantly, poor patient outcomes.
Every clinician in a hospital strives to prevent hospital-acquired pressure injuries (HAPIs). Stage III, Stage IV, and unstageable HAPIs are categorized as “never events” under the CMS Hospital-Acquired Condition (HAC) program and carry substantial direct and indirect costs for hospitals and health systems.
So, what can be done to prevent HAPIs? One of the most promising innovations is the growth of digital technologies, such as those pioneered by Tissue Analytics, a Net Health company. A recent webinar presented by Kara and Tissue Analytics’ wound care experts highlights some of the many ways digital technologies can help improve wound care.
The Value of Digital Technologies in Wound Care
- Accurate and comprehensive documentation. Ensuring there is a documented record of a patient’s wounds at admission and making that record available to all clinicians providing care for a patient is a crucial part of the care continuum. Accurate and available documentation helps drive quality care from an inpatient admission to discharge to follow up outpatient visits.
- Workflow improvement. If there’s one thing hospital providers today don’t have, it’s time. When MDs or RNs are asked to complete additional tasks, such as documenting the status of a wound, it needs to be streamlined, simple and mesh seamlessly with their workflow. An integrated workflow that can help automate previously time-consuming tasks can save significant documentation time for a clinician, leaving them more time to focus on the patient.
- Mobile documentation and assessment. Clinicians can now complete wound care documentation with an app on their mobile device giving them more flexibility and ease in documenting wounds efficiently. These apps safeguard patient privacy by ensuring all images are immediately uploaded to the EHR and never stored on the mobile device.
- Technology-enabled imaging. Simply taking a photo of a wound is not enough to provide clinical guidance, documentation or show how the status of a wound changes over time. Poor quality photos can even negate the value and functionality of digital systems. Technology that provides guidance on image quality and protocols such as lighting, distance, and angles helps ensure consistent, high-quality images that are of value when evaluating a patient’s wound.
- Track wounds across the care continuum. A patient’s healthcare journey may take them from an inpatient admission to regular outpatient wound care visits. Tracking that journey, and the status of wounds along that pathway, is an important step for providers. With Tissue Analytics, images are in a single repository and clinicians can track images pre- and post-discharge to better monitor the wound’s progress.
Meeting Care Goals
The goal of any wound care program is to ensure quality care and optimize patient outcomes. Additionally, it’s vitally important to equip senior leadership with the data necessary to track and monitor progress across the care continuum. With digitally-based wound care platforms, such as those enabled by Tissue Analytics, hospitals have been able to significantly improve a range of metrics, including cost, documentation accuracy and patient outcomes.
Utilization of technology such as Tissue Analytics ensures skin conditions can be accurately captured at the time of admission. This definitive documentation is invaluable when investigating the originating site of tissue damage.
However, Kara notes that perhaps the most important benefit is that digital technologies reduce the time spent on inefficient documentation processes, and help reunite providers with their true calling: caring for patients.