Implementation and evaluation of telemedicine in burn care: Study of clinical safety and technical feasibility in a single burn center

Alejandra Monte Soldado*, Bernat López-Masrramon, Jorge Aguilera-Sáez, Jordi Serracanta Domenech, José Manuel Collado Delfa, Carlos Moreno Ramos, Juan Pedro Barret Nerin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The objective of this study is to review our experience in the implementation of an innovative Telemedicine Platform (the Teleburns Project) for the acute care of burned patients. METHODS: We developed and implemented a Teleburns Platform by the creation of a new medical software and hardware for High Definition medical videoconference, in order to assist distant burned patients. After the establishment of the system and revision of technical requirements, an internal validation of the project was done: we managed 40 consecutive burned patients via telemedicine videoconference within our own Center. Following the internal validation, a pilot test with the Verge de la Cinta Hospital (VCH) – located in Tortosa, 180 km away from Barcelona – was conducted. A prospective review of 43 burn patients participating in tele-encounters was performed. The data collected were: patient and injury demographics, need for transfer to our hospital, need for surgical treatment, complications, readmissions and technical problems. Results: No discrepancies were found between remote and face-to-face diagnosis and treatment during internal validation, obtaining a 100% reliability. No technical errors were reported. Concerning the pilot test with the VCH, 43 patients were assessed via telemedicine during a 48-month period. Mean age of the participants was 36.7 (0–85 years). The mean total burn surface area was 3.1% (range 0.5–15%). The more frequently affected areas were head and neck (27 patients) and hands (16 patients). As a result of the 43 televisits, 8 patients (18.6%) were immediately transferred to our Burn Center in Barcelona and 12 patients (27.9%) were asked to come a few days later, to be visited in our Day Care Unit. Thus 23 patients (53.5%) could avoid being transferred to the Burn Center. 5 of them were followed via Teleburns without complications and 17 patients were discharged after the first tele-encounter. All patients discharged presented an uneventful evolution and did not receive further care from our Burn Unit. Technical problems were reported in eleven occasions during this phase, none of which prevented completion of the visits. Conclusions: The use of Telemedicine for burn assessment can improve the accuracy of burn patients triage, resulting in enhanced resource utilization, time and cost saving for the health system and increased quality of care.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalBurns
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted in press - 2020

Keywords

  • Burns
  • Information and Communications Technologies
  • Teleburns
  • Telehealth
  • Telemedicine

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