Telewound Care Canada
Using AI to deliver remote wound care to the most vulnerable patients.
Updated October 31, 2023
Wounds are a huge challenge to the healthcare system.
More than 6.5 million people in North America have chronic wounds that require ongoing care. In Canada, 30 to 50 per cent of all healthcare involves a wound, amounting to an annual spend of $3.9 billion on direct wound care costs. Without regular care, patients can face infections that drive hospitalization, amputation and even death. Wound care is also complex, has a high error rate due to antiquated tools in measuring severity, and most physicians receive less than 10 hours of formal wound care education while in school.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and as an ongoing issue for rural or remote communities, many vulnerable wound patients were under quarantine or without geographic access to vital wound care they need. If essential care is postponed or improperly delivered, patients are 20 times likely to end up in hospital and 10 to 40 times more likely to need an amputation.
While many healthcare organizations adopted virtual care solutions to reach patients during COVID-19, telehealth solutions were initially inadequate for wound care. The solutions lacked the high resolution, scientifically calibrated images, sub-millimeter accuracy and proper lighting that are critical to remotely assessing and treating wounds.
How We Are Solving It
The Telewound Care Canada project sought to develop and deploy a technology solution that enables patients to access wound care from their own home, without having to risk exposure to COVID-19 during the pandemic.
Led by Swift Medical, the project brought together SE Health, AlayaCare and several healthcare and academic institutions in Canada.
The initiative sought to provide a mobile application that can be used by patients to take pictures of their wound, share them with their healthcare provider and conduct a virtual consultation – all while allowing providers to gain visibility into healing trends, risks and needs. Health professionals can remotely review medical-grade wound images with new imaging AI, which also helps to document, assess and treat those wounds. The platform would be able to quantify and forecast the risk of new or worsening wounds, enabling care providers to deliver proactive and preventive care that will help keep patients healthy at home.
Beyond the COVID-19 crisis, the technology cited its potential to improve wound care worldwide by enabling patients to access quality wound care from anywhere.
This project delivered the Telewound Care solution, which enables enhanced access to wound care for patients in the home and community to support better treatment decisions and earlier identification of high risk wound patients to drive proactive intervention — and keep them in their home. The solution is a mobile application that allows patients or clinicians to easily take wound images and share these images/data with the entire healthcare team to support continuous, convenient and preventive care.
The solution is considered the #1 digital wound care solution with Swift Medical being ranked one of the most promising digital health startups in the world by CB Insights. It has been adopted by ~4,000 healthcare facilities and 20,000 users with 200,000 active patients under care; resulting in a significant improvement in wound healing times, decreased hospital visits and reduction in care costs.
The solution’s outcomes have shown 95% clinical accuracy, 79% faster identification than current manual standards, 35% faster wound healing, 15% reduction in hospitalizations and a 9% reduction in visit utilization. These results are leading to a $3 million reduction from hospitalizations per organization, and helping to drive geographic health equity for rural and remote communities.
Dr. Sheila Wang, co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Swift Medical, also received Canada’s Governor General’s Innovation Award in 2021 for their advancements and leadership in remote wound care.
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