When telemedicine helps with the treatment of complex wounds

1 500 000 patients every year are treated in France for chronic wounds, often causing long, costly hospital stays, whereas home treatment would allow these patients to stay in their own living environments. For the past 14 years, the wounds and healing town/hospital network (CICAT-LR) in Languedoc-Roussillon has worked to promote an innovative care service.

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The Domoplaies Project uses information and communication technologies to improve access to health care. The Domoplaies Project uses information and communication technologies to improve access to health care.

The purpose of the CICAT-LR network is to advise health professionals, whether independent or hospital employees, on the home care of patients suffering from complex wounds. Since 2011, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has supported the CICAT-LR network, which is part of the inter-regional telemedicine project Domoplaies in France (ASIP Santé).

"More specifically, the Domoplaies project, established together with the Basse-Normandie region, makes it possible to improve care and follow-up of patients whose recovery can be difficult,” explains Olivier Sicard, Project Leader. “Within just a few years, we have made a significant technological leap forward. Before, health care providers sent photos of wounds to the network from their mobile phones. In the future (the pilot site launches in September 2013), we will move past this rather basic method by providing health care professionals with tablets at the homes of patients. This will allow an effective exchange of information and genuine professional telemedicine.”

Service at home with remote follow-up

The need to expand this form of off-site care arises for a number of reasons: the aging population, the desire to keep patients at home, the cost of hospital stays and travel, and the need to ensure continuity of care – without forgetting rural regions.

The figures confirm these needs. From 2005 to 2012, 6 590 patients have benefited from the network’s assistance. 1 371 were followed up in 2012 (63 % were more than 70 years of age, and had an average age of 89). A variety of types of wounds are encountered, with the majority being bedsores and leg ulcers. In one year, 3 147 visits were made to patients by expert nurses.

Telephone calls to the CICAT-LR network are made by nurses and doctors from a patient’s home, or (more and more often) from health care establishments. In Montpellier, the nurse coordinator centralises requests for intervention and plans appointments throughout the region, whether this involves remote consultation, remote expert assessment or remote assistance.

Tailored training

The CICAT-LR also offers tailored training, adapted to identified needs. These training courses can be internal, in health care establishments, and/or external, and are open to all professionals. They supplement the training on the ground offered by experts on a case-by-case basis. These sessions allow improved access to all the technical information or assistance that may help with prevention or with care in this specific field.

ldquo;The people involved in the Domoplaies project must ensure that good practice is spread to the health care professionals they are in contact with. They also aim to provide the follow-up and feedback that are vital for creating similar services in other regions,” concludes Olivier Sicard.

Total investment and EU funding

The project “Telemedicine for home wound follow-up care in Languedoc-Roussillon” has a total investment of EUR 1 889 241. The European Regional Development Fund’s contribution is EUR 499 131 for the 2007-2013 project programming period.

Draft date