The combination of advancing technologies and COVID-19-related growth in telehealth is creating remarkable opportunities in wound care.
Chronic wounds, including diabetic ulcers and pressure ulcers, are among the trickier conditions for healthcare providers. They can be complicated to treat, especially in the elderly and for those with comorbidities that affect healing. Patient compliance is critical to helping a wound heal and prevent infection.
Before the emergence of COVID-19, chronic wounds were traditionally treated in a hospital-based outpatient setting, with diagnosis and care being provided in person. As the need to treat patients remotely increased, the healthcare industry was forced to prioritize telehealth offerings, and wound care was no exception.
The Growth of Telehealth in Wound Care
In March, recognizing the need to ensure patients could access necessary healthcare services, CMS began to relax its rules regarding telehealth for healthcare providers.
While the regulations continue to change frequently, government and private payers are now covering telehealth for wound care, including services in the home or onsite at a clinic, nursing home, etc. A perfect storm from COVID-19, CMS’ telehealth waivers combined with advanced technology have contributed to an uptick in telehealth usage by wound care providers and patients.
Technology is rapidly evolving in wound care – and the latest tech is ideally suited to support telehealth visits. For example, a patient with a diabetic ulcer can snap a photo of their wound with their mobile phone from wherever they are and forward it to their provider. Their provider can view the photo and offer feedback on whether they need to visit the clinic for treatment, get a prescription refill or have wound care supplies delivered to their home.
Both patients and providers now have a variety of sophisticated web and mobile applications focused on wound care and healing. These innovations provide clinicians with the necessary information to assess a wound while also giving patients a simple, secure solution for taking images and sending messages with their provider.
Telehealth: Benefits for Providers and Patients
In many ways, the assessment and treatment of wounds is now much easier. Depending on the state of a patient’s wound, providers can now effectively limit the number of required in-person visits.
Patients can easily send images and speak in real time with a wound care clinician without leaving their home. Some wound care mobile applications even provide reminders for patients to send wound images to their provider on a regular basis. Since COVID-19, many patients are nervous about going to a clinic for treatment and greatly prefer remote evaluations.
While telehealth is expanding the capabilities of wound care, there are important steps and features to optimize its value. Net Health provides a number of resources and products to ensure that providers and patients get the best care possible.
Best Practices for Wound Care
Optimal workflows are a critical element for busy wound care providers. They need systems that drive quality and performance, provide analysis and visualization and help with scheduling, appointment reminders, assessments, benchmarking and analytics. This data needs to be readily available in the electronic health record. The EHR should also be interoperable so that it can sync with other systems of record if needed. This helps save time for the providers and clinics by eliminating redundant data entry and reducing errors.
Using a secure telehealth platform is key to protecting patients’ sensitive information. Net Health’s WoundExpert® Patient Portal provides a HIPAA-compliant secure line of communication between clinicians and patients. Additionally, it allows providers to . . .
- Conduct virtual visits and follow-up conversations
- Receive images and documents from patients
- Provide patients with on-demand access to their health information
- Launch a video chat with their patients directly from the WoundExpert application
- Document the overall visit and capture important data necessary for billing and reimbursement
More Advances on the Horizon
Many healthcare experts predict that even once COVID-19 abates, telehealth is here to stay. Advances in wound care technology, including predictive analytics and artificial intelligence, will help telehealth thrive in the coming years. As a result, patients and providers can expect even more exciting innovations and advances that will significantly benefit them in the future.
Net Health Wound Care Now Offering Telehealth Option
Net Health is now offering a telehealth option with our WoundExpert® electronic health record (EHR) for wound care providers. See on-demand demo now.