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9 Reasons Why Wound Photography Needs To Be A Part Of Your Wound Care Program

Wound care documentation isn’t complete without easy-to-upload wound care photos

What should be included in wound documentation? An excellent assessment is certainly appropriate. A patient-specific care plan is a must.

But any wound care specialist will tell you: there’s one factor that dramatically improves the quality of wound documentation. It’s wound photography.

Including wound photography in your assessments isn’t just for wound care specialties. In fact, if your staff providing wound care isn’t certified in wound care, having wound photography is even more important.

A picture is worth a thousand words—especially if those words are different interpretations of the same wound!

Here are 9 reasons wound care photos need to be a part of your wound care documentation:

1.   Including wound care photos is the gold standard for wound care assessments.

Excellent documentation of an assessment is a professional and legal responsibility. While wound photography should never replace a written assessment, it significantly improves the quality of documentation.

Today’s doctors want images—it improves their care plan. Images also take some of the guesswork out of how a wound looked.

2.   Wound photography supports continuity of care.

Provider assessments of the same wound can differ significantly. While providers want the same outcome (a healed wound), different interpretations of the same wound can suggest incorrect changes in the wound. This can lead to inappropriate or unnecessary changes in a patient’s care plan.

One provider may feel that a reddened peri-wound has normal inflammation. Another may feel there are signs of early infection. Having wound images is an excellent way to compare notes.

3.   Assessments are much easier to compare, especially over long periods of time.

What did a wound look like last month? While the written assessment is helpful, a mere description may not reveal just how much better or worse a wound looks. Wound photography helps improve the objectivity of an assessment.

If a patient’s wound is covered in 100% eschar and the wound was 100% eschar a week later, did it improve? An image could reveal that eschar has softened. This is a major improvement that may not necessarily show in the written assessment, especially between two different clinicians.

4.   Changes in wound integrity are easier to spot, especially with different providers.

Ideally, patients could get the same care from the same person every time. But whether they’re inpatient or outpatient, there’s no guarantee a patient will get the same nurse or a doctor.

An atypical wound or slow healing wound may be improving, but a nurse that hasn’t given a specific person wound care may not recognize this.

Changes in wound integrity are significant. It can reveal whether a patient needs a change in their care plan or emergency interventions.

When there are wound photos from previous visits, a nurse can have a reference.

5.   The risk for infection can be easier to spot.

How can a provider know if a wound peri-wound is more inflamed than it was last time? A written assessment may not reveal it. Even if the same provider gives a patient care, the insidious signs of infection may not be apparent without image documentation.

Chronic wounds often have different infection signs than acute wounds. The subtle changes can have devastating effects if they’re not caught and treated promptly. With wound photography, changes are easier to track.

6.   A great wound photo system can take automatic, accurate digital wound measurements.

Why merely capture an image when you can measure the wound at the same time? With measurement-capturing technology like WoundZoom, a single picture gives you both an image and precise wound measurements.

This isn’t just a benefit for reducing infection risk, since you don’t have to touch the wound to get measurements. It also improves the accuracy of the measurements themselves.

The standard method of measuring length by width with a paper ruler has clinicians overestimating wound size by an average of 40%. How can a patient get appropriate changes to their plan of care with such gross inaccuracies? Wound photography that doubles as digital planimetry is an efficient, accurate solution.

7.   Different providers can access the wound…even when the patient is not there.

Wound care, particularly chronic wounds, often requires multiple different specialties. A patient who needs wound care may interact with the ER, inpatient services, outpatient wound care, vascular management, infectious disease, physical therapy, and lymphedema management, just to name a few.

If the specialties are within a facility—and the facility uses the same documentation system—they can all have access to a patient’s chart. Seeing the background and progression of a wound through photo documentation helps clinicians plan better care.

8.   Referrals become more robust.

Patients needing wound care very often need a referral to a complementary specialty, like vascular, lymphedema, home health, or infectious disease. Having wound photography with your referrals helps give the referred practice a better background on the patient.

If a specialty is aware of how a patient’s wound looks, they can prepare better for when the patient arrives.

9.   Patients can see their progress.

Wounds are often in hard-to-see areas. A patient with a sacrum or bottom-of-the-foot wound may struggle to see their own wound. Many patients also don’t have the mobility to take a look at their wounds.

Not being able to see their own wounds makes it challenging for patients to gauge their progress. Thankfully, research supports that seeing photographs of their own wounds empowers the patient.

  • The patient feels more autonomy in their care
  • It improves their memory of what the wound looked like
  • It helps them track their progress better

Most importantly, empowering patients in their own wound care helps improve compliance. When the patient and clinician work together, the team effort can speed up and improve healing.

What’s the best camera for wound care photography?

The best option is one that’s:

  • Easy-to-access
  • Reliable
  • HIPAA-compliant
  • Uploads images straight to your EHR

A simple facility-designated device, like a digital camera, can be a fair option. However, it won’t have the digital planimetry benefits. The process of manually uploading images is also inefficient.

Another option is a facility-designated smart device, like an iPad. Unfortunately, HIPAA compliance can become trickier.

How should a photo get to a patient’s chart? HIPAA-protected information, like a patient’s wound photos, should never be sent from an unsecured platform, like a text or unprotected email. More trouble can arise if photos are automatically uploaded to a cloud storage system.

The best image-capturing option is a HIPAA-compliant portal that connects to your facility’s EHR.

WoundZoom allows a user to efficiently take photos on any device with the app. Whether it’s a facility dedicated device or the staff’s personal device, each user has their own login credentials. Data is encrypted in transit and at rest, and photos are not stored on the device.

If you don’t include photo documentation with your wound care assessments, it’s time to upgrade for the benefit of your patients.

With a robust digital wound management system, you’ll also improve staff efficiency. The intuitive documentation prompts allow staff to deliver better wound care—even if they’re not formally trained in wound care.

Ready to integrate easy wound photography into your wound care program? Look into your FREE 30-minute WoundZoom demo to explore whether WoundZoom is right for you.

Mata Title: 9 Reasons Why Wound Photography Needs to Be A Part of Your Wound Care Program

Meta Description: Wound care photos improve more than documentation. They help track progress, help patients be more involved in care, improve care continuity, and more.

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