Standardized care protocol and modifications to electronic medical records to facilitate venous ulcer healing.
BACKGROUND: Venous ulcers are painful, recurrent, and difficult to heal. Electronic medical records (EMRs) are often not optimized to track wounds. Specialized wound care programs may not interface with office-based records, creating a need to standardize the process of venous ulcer measurement and dressing documentation within existing systems. This work describes the creation of an EMR protocol to track venous ulcer size, to standardize dressings, to address related health issues, and to improve education of the patient. We hypothesized that the institution of an EMR protocol to track clinical features of venous ulcer patients, including wound size and health status, would facilitate wound healing. METHODS: We performed a retrospective review of a prospective database from September 2014 to May 2017. Modifications to the EMR included the formation of a venous ulcer patient list, a dressing tracker, calculation of total ulcer area, graphing of ulcer size over time, and images of the wound area. Patient education materials were created through the EMR and loaded into an automatic end-visit printout that emphasized smoking cessation, weight loss, and consultation with specialty services as necessary. Quarterly meetings with the supervising physician were established to review each patient's wound progress and to target areas of improvement. RESULTS: During the study period, 204 patients with chronic C5 and C6 disease were observed. Before the start of the project, the healing rate was 53.3%. Wound healing rates improved from 59.5% (quarter 1) to 77.94% (quarter 8). In the quarter before the project started, there were no patients who had quit or cut down on smoking or smokeless tobacco, no patients who were referred for weight loss consultation, and nine who were already patients of bariatric surgery. During the study period, 29% of patients quit smoking, 19% decreased smoking, and 20% cut down smokeless tobacco use. There were 54 patients who underwent advanced arterial evaluation; 175 patients underwent sclerotherapy and 137 patients had endovenous thermal ablation to treat axial reflux in the affected limb. The EMR modification project took 13 months to craft and to implement, with approximately 8 hours of meeting time from the surgical team. CONCLUSIONS: A comprehensive care model for venous ulcer patients through EMR modification improved overall patient care, increased communication between providers, and facilitated ulcer healing. EMR modification can be introduced with an acceptable time investment on the part of both the provider and the institutional information technology team.
Bitner, J; Sachdev, U; Hager, ES; Dillavou, ED
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