COVID-19 has drastically changed healthcare in our country, and it seems that some of those changes are here to stay. One of the most promising changes is the growing acceptance of the use of technology, including telehealth, to connect patients and providers remotely.1
But is telehealth, especially in wound care, just about sitting in front of a smart phone or laptop and sharing an image of a wound? It shouldn’t be. To ensure telehealth for wound care is all it can and should be, providers need to ensure they are using the right technology, platforms, apps and approaches to engage with their patients.
Questions that lead to better connections
One of the most important steps providers can take is to ensure that technology helps them not just obtain and share clinical information but that it’s also a tool to build relationships and help engage and connect with their patients. Engaged patients are typically more compliant, leading to better outcomes.2 To see that goal is met, here are some important questions to ask to ensure that both providers and patients secure optimal value and benefit from wound care technology.
- What type of platform and technology are you using? The best wound care technology provides a platform that ensures providers get the information they need to optimize and facilitate care. Patient-centered wound care apps that connect seamlessly to the platform and integrate into the electronic health record (EHR) are vital to ensure optimal results from wound care technology.
- Is the technology convenient and easy-to-use for patients? Today, most patients or their caregivers can readily use smart phones, laptops and tablets. Patients need to be able to quickly download a wound care app and then readily upload their information in order for effective communication with their provider to take place.
- Does the technology promote follow-through with patient care plans? Wound care doesn’t end after a telehealth visit. To truly engage patients, technology should promote learning and help patients follow through with their care plan. Additionally, look for options that provide patients with 24/7 access to their health information and that make scheduling and messaging between patient and providers fast and easy.
- Does the platform offer exceptional digital imaging capabilities that seamlessly link to the EHR? For example, Tissue Analytics, a Net Health company, provides a mobile app that patients can use to capture an image of wounds using just a smartphone and a mobile app and have it sent directly to their wound care provider. The value of this approach to clinicians is clarity and the ability to monitor a patient’s wound quickly and accurately without having to see the patient for a visit.
- Does the platform safeguard patient privacy? Patients need assurances that any communication with their provider will be private and secure. HIPAA-compliant technology, as well as rigorous protocols and standards for all staff, help ensure a patient’s privacy. Discussing security practices with patients gives them the assurances they need to comfortably and consistently use the wound care technology.
Take time to connect
The advancements in wound care technology over the past few years are remarkable. The latest innovations provide the potential to significantly improve care and outcomes, while also managing cost. But to truly connect patients and providers, any technology used to facilitate clinical care still needs to be combined with personalized and compassionate care.
Providers must take extra steps to truly engage when using technology. Go beyond the clinical. Remember to ask how patients are feeling; how their family is doing; find out about hobbies or other activities. Such an approach will not only provide the opportunity for greater clinical engagement, it can also bring greater fulfillment and enjoyment to the provider.
For more information on how to best connect and engage patients using wound care technology, check out Videoconferencing for Telehealth.
2Implementation Science, “Engaging patients to improve quality of care: a systematic review,” 26 July 2018.