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How Smart Phones Are Improving Treatment for Diabetic Wounds

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New smart phone tech helps doctors more accurately assess diabetic foot wounds and prevent amputations.

Smartphones powered by artificial intelligence (AI) have become an essential part of modern life. They help us navigate traffic, do business, and find romantic partners. Now, these devices have become a potent force in healing diabetic wounds and preventing amputation. 

Wounds are a serious health concern. People with diabetes often suffer from reduced sensation, known as diabetic neuropathy, allowing them to walk around with open foot wounds and barely notice. Complicating matters is peripheral artery disease, a condition present in more than half of people with diabetic foot wounds, which makes wounds harder to heal. The result is that even small cuts and abrasions often go unnoticed until they become much more serious. 

It is estimated that every 1.2 seconds someone on the planet develops a diabetic foot wound and every 20 seconds someone loses a limb toit. 

Prevailing methods are failing patients

A major issue is the need for more accurate wound information.

Current methods of measuring and assessing foot wounds are inadequate. A paper ruler is used to measure length and width and a cotton swab inserted into the wound measures depth. Not only is this painful, it is often inaccurate given that wounds are typically irregular in shape. In fact, this measurement has more than 30 percent inter-operator error. Tracking the healing process also means monitoring changes in the proportion of healthy tissue relative to unhealthy which is also prone to subjectivity.  

Unreliable wound information creates a variety of challenges and can lead to improper diagnosis and treatment. The consequence is patients who simply do not heal, or worse, amputation. 

Revolutionizing diabetic wound care

Smartphones powered by machine visioning and AI are changing the game. Now, simply taking a picture can capture reliable wound information. Devices with Digital Wound Care Technology can assess wounds with far more accuracy than even the most seasoned wound care professionals. Over time, this allows caregivers to gauge progress and to ensure the right course of treatment is prescribed. 

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Diabetes is, of course, a complex disease. Treatment involves a variety of medical practitioners, from family doctors and specialists to nurses and therapists. Capturing wound data digitally brings the added benefit of making it easy to share this information, allowing teams to provide more holistic care. Through automation, treatments can also be standardized using checklists and other prompts. This ensures critical procedures and assessments are delivered consistently. 

Putting patients at the center of the healing process

One particularly interesting benefit of AI powered imaging is the impact on patient engagement. A study from the International Wound Journal found that photography is an effective tool in empowering patients in the management of their wounds. Eighty percent of study participants said photographing their wounds, which can be hard for them to see, would help them track progress without relying solely on the physician’s assessment. More than half reported it would allow them to be more involved in the healing process and better coordinate their own care across health care specialists. 

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