Wound Technology Network (WTN) needed a mobile solution to deliver wound care in a patient’s home. It deployed a wound management application on the Windows Mobile® 6.1 operating system. Clinicians visiting patients use their mobile devices for video consultations with experts, reducing hospital admissions by up to 90 percent as reported by health plan customers and healing wounds 50 percent faster than hospital-based wound care centers.
Wound Technology Network (WTN) created its network-based telehealth wound management system to address systemic issues in the provision of wound care. WTN employs medical doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants who use the WTN system to provide patient care. Its customers include health plan providers and medical groups that refer patients.
According to Jeffrey Galitz, MD, Chairman and Chief Medical Officer at Wound Technology Network, wound care costs the United States health system more than U.S.$35 billion annually. “My mission is to provide the highest level of care in the most cost-effective manner to heal wounds faster,” he says. “For wound care to be effective, it has to be a comprehensive plan of care, utilizing the best products and the best methodologies.”
However, in many cases, the lack of standardized methods and care result in unnecessarily long treatment and healing times, and expensive hospital visits. These factors contribute to high costs borne by patients and health plans.
“Dr. Galitz and I realized there was an opportunity to move expensive wound care centers out of the hospital to the home environment, where patients prefer to be treated,” says George Pollack, Chief Operating and Technology Officer at Wound Technology Network. “Recognizing this opportunity, we realized we had to develop a standardized methodology to provide continuity of care and achieve the best outcomes.”
WTN took National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Agency for Health Research & Quality (AHRQ) guidelines for wound care and programmed them into its electronic medical record system to standardize protocols for its employees. “WTN has been using voice and video over the Internet protocol and laptops since 2000,” says Pollack. “Our vision was to move to a handheld mobile device that would be less expensive and easier for our staff to use.”
Wound Technology Network became a Registered Member of the Microsoft® Partner Program in 2006. It began working with iVisit, another Registered Member of the Microsoft Partner Program. iVisit develops video conferencing and other collaborative tools for mobile devices and PCs.
||By ensuring that all our clinicians are providing the highest level of care wherever they are, we’ll know our patients will ultimately have better results.
||Jeffrey Galitz, MD
Chairman and Chief Medical Officer, Wound Technology Network
Working together, the two companies enhanced iVisit video telephony to facilitate real-time video conferencing in the Windows Mobile® 6.1 operating system environment. Using the AT&T 3G network, the resulting solution runs on the HTC Fuze mobile device with a 524-megahertz Qualcomm processor. “The reason we chose Windows Mobile is the way that the platform is designed and for ease of use,” says Pollack.
With this mobile telehealth video conferencing platform, two clinical professionals can treat a patient’s wound in the comfort of his or her home. “With the WTN application,” Pollack explains, “a clinician in the field takes out his or her HTC Fuze … and uses the iVisit application to call the WTN telemanagement health center to speak live over video with a wound care specialist who asks 75 standard questions related to every wound. Together, they’ll be able to assess the wound … and then perform the treatment.” The clinician can also take and share digital photos of a patient’s wound to discuss treatment options. All treatment is based on NIH/AHRQ best practice guidelines, combined with the most advanced wound care applications.
For its mobile wound care treatment program, WTN used four components: voice and video over Internet protocol; a Web-based electronic medical record; wireless broadband technology; and advanced wound-healing products. “Without the available technologies from Microsoft, Qualcomm, HTC, and AT&T, we wouldn’t have been able to [deliver] our advanced wound-healing products and heal patients faster,” says Pollack. “All patient care is conducted through a private network that meets the highest levels of security.”
With its mobile healthcare solution, Wound Technology Network launched a paradigm shift in wound care. The standardized, evidence-based guidelines and best practices that inform the WTN treatment protocol help ensure that all WTN patients, no matter where they are in the country, receive the same quality treatments, at a lower cost than that of traditional care.
“By ensuring that all our clinicians are providing the highest level of care wherever they are, we’ll know our patients will ultimately have better results,” says Galitz. “Better outcomes equate to lower costs. These are the great benefits of having the technology at hand.”
Improved Patient Outcomes
WTN patients experience many benefits from the company’s mobile treatment program, including at-home care and improved continuity of care. Based on a case study from one of WTN’s health plan partners, WTN cites a wound-healing rate of 90 percent without surgical intervention, and estimates that time-to-heal is reduced by 50 percent or more compared with traditional in-hospital care.
WTN is accumulating clinically generated medical data, including photos, in its electronic medical record system, which it can use to more effectively track wound care. “Better information leads to better outcomes,” says Galitz.
Reduced Healthcare Costs
WTN is using its mobile wound management solution to help reduce the number of expensive hospital stays. “We are able to decrease hospitalizations by 90 percent,” says Galitz.
Other benefits for payers include:
- Hospitalization readmissions reduced by up to 90 percent.
- Extensive data and report generation.
- Risk reduction compared with hospital treatment.
- Continuity of care and complete case management.
Use of the new solution can significantly reduce operating costs for clinical care providers who can work with handheld mobile devices instead of expensive laptops and webcams. This reduces costs per new clinical employee by approximately $1,200 and $1,000 annually per clinical staff member. “We’ve used technology to lower the cost of healthcare,” concludes Galitz.