Pressure injuries (bed sores) affect up to 28% of aged care residents and cost the health system AU$983 million per annum. MACH is supporting a recently awarded Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund grant of $376,800, which will allow MACH Care of the Ageing Committee’s Dr Suzanne Kapp tackle the rise of pressure injuries in aged care. Dr Kapp is trialling remote expert nurse consultation to create an e-health intervention to improve wound care in residential aged care homes.

Using expert wound nurses and a telehealth style app called Tissue Analytics, the initiative involves partnering with Regis Aged Care to offer remote consultation at the bedside. The program will use a mobile app, whereby patients’ photographed pressure injuries and wound analytics, can be examined by the external expert wound nurse in order to make their remote diagnosis and recommend treatment options.

The app will calculate the wound size, depth, volume and tissue type based on an image and track wound progress. The research is also developing a machine-learning algorithm which will help decision making about pressure injury diagnosis and treatment, this led by researchers from Tel Aviv University. Face-to-face consults have become increasingly challenging during the time of COVID-19 and emerging evidence suggests pressure injuries are on the rise. Dr Kapp’s research circumvents this issue through video conferencing with the expert nurse, the nurse in residential age care, and the patient.

The project can also facilitate a level of external participation in the consult, with family members being able to connect in to observe and engage in these remote sessions, to ask questions themselves and also offer reassurance to their loved one. Project collaborators Mölnlycke will also provide patients with wound dressings and equipment to help treat the pressure injures and redistribute pressure.

“Once we have this remote consultation model of care in place, we will do pilot trials to evaluate in a rigorous way how effective the model of care is and look at how we might implement the model on a larger scale,” says Dr Kapp, who expressed her gratitude to the nurses and patients of the study.

“We are incredibly grateful to have participants on board as we appreciate this is a challenging time for all health care services and it requires real commitment to participate in research projects under the circumstances.”

This project is supported in part by the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) as part of the Rapid Applied Research Translation program through the Melbourne Academic Centre for Health.

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