Background: Telemedicine in wound care is an evolving method of information technology and telecommunication designed to provide health care at a distance. Given the visual nature of wound care, telemedicine has many potential applications within this field. The authors will review the current status of wound care and telemedicine.
Methods: A comprehensive literature review of articles published on telemedicine in wound care was performed. Articles were selected for their relevance to wound healing and then reviewed for their discussion on the potential applications, benefits, and limitations to telemedicine in wound care. The CICAT network data were reviewed including 5,794 patients between January 2005 and October 2015. Clinical efficacy and medicoeconomic results were analyzed.
Results: Current literature suggests a myriad of potential benefits of telemedicine in wound care, often citing increased access to professional expertise in remote and rural settings, as well as cost savings. The CICAT wound network in France analyzed wounds, which were principally pressure ulcers (44%), leg ulcers (24%), and diabetic foot ulcers (8%). Results demonstrated 75% of wounds improved or healed, a 72% reduction in the number of hospitalizations, and 56% reduction in ambulance transfers to wound healing centers.
Conclusions: There is an increasing demand for assistance from professionals not specialized in wound healing, facing complex wounds. The goal is to enable the spread of expertise beyond major medical centers. Several limitations and barriers to the application of telemedicine in all settings are evident, including over diagnosis, dependence on a functional telecommunication system, and various legal aspects. The CICAT network in France provides an example of a how telemedicine may be of benefit in wound care, although it is important to note that in other countries, such as the United States, legal constraints and credentialing concerns may make telemedicine extremely complicated.