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Smartphone App Measures Wounds, Tracks Healing

Swift Skin and Wound app

Swift Skin and Wound app (Swift Medical Inc.)

19 Dec. 2018. The need for better ways of tracking the size and healing of wounds led a medical resident in Canada to help develop a smartphone app and start a company for these tasks. The Swift Skin and Wound app is offered as part of a wound tracking service from Swift Medical Inc. in Toronto, Ontario, with both the app and company the result of efforts by dermatology resident Sheila Wang at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Quebec.

Wang got the idea for the app from the imprecise methods by clinicians for measuring the size of wounds, a key factor in determining the extent of healing. “When I was in medical school in Toronto in 2013,” says Wang in a McGill statement, “I noticed doctors and nurses relied on rulers to measure patients’ wounds,” she says, “resulting in widely varied descriptions, depending on who was doing the measuring. It didn’t seem very exact, so I decided to do something about it.”

The Swift Skin and Wound app uses the smartphone’s camera to photograph the wound, with software in the app to measure the wound’s size and capture other relevant information. Since the app does not contact the skin, this method is considered safer for most patients than a hand-held ruler. In an article published last year in the journal PLoS One, Wang and colleagues showed the Swift Skin and Wound app measured wounds in 87 patients more accurately than hand-held rulers. And the app also accurately measures wound size even with previously untrained individuals, which suggests the app can be used by caregivers and patients themselves in their homes.

Swift Medical, co-founded by Wang, offers the app as part of its HealX service that stores data from the app for clinical records, which can also be used for insurance claims. At hospitals and clinics, says the company, data from patients using the app can be aggregated and analyzed for compliance with standards and treatment plans. Swift Medical says its program is now in use in more than 1,000 institutions. Wang is the company’s chief medical officer.

McGill University Health Centre is one of the institutions using Swift Skin and Wound. Gregory Berry, chief of orthopedic surgery at Montreal General Hospital, part of McGill University Health Centre, says “Many of my patients are diabetic and are dealing with slow-healing foot ulcers. This app offers a way to clearly document and quantify the size of the ulcer to ensure it is actually healing, and if it is not healing, I can change strategies.” Berry also studies wound healing in McGill’s Injury Repair Recovery Program.

Swift Medical says its app can be used as well to track the extent of pressure ulcers and other skin lesions occurring in nursing homes. In October, Wang and colleagues published a paper in the journal JMIR Dermatology that reviewed electronic health records of nearly 23,500 nursing home residents to locate the type and location of skin wounds. The results identified the most common wounds as abrasions, pressure ulcers, surgical wounds, and skin tears, occurring most often on the skin over tailbones, left and right forearms, and the base of the spine.

Wang and Berry tell more about the Swift app in the following video.

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