Telemedicine (TM) is a new, rapidly evolving area and can be of great value in the provision of healthcare to remote and rural populations. Wound healing and wound management are prime candidates for TM. The treatment of skin ulcers requires frequent assessments of local wound status and adjustment of therapy. The availability of reasonably priced photographic equipment and quick electronic transfer of high-quality digital images should make the assessment of wound status by remote experts possible. Several studies showing the feasibility and the usefulness of teleconsultations in dermatology have already been described in the literature, and high accordance for diagnosis and treatment between face-to-face visits and teleconsultations has been reported. Some used digital photographs and sent the image and clinical data via the Internet to a wound care specialist (store and forward), whereas others used a webcam (televideoconferencing). Tele–wound care offers great potential for the future in chronic wound care. By reducing the need to travel long distances to the hospital or to consult with a physician, TM decreases the costs and improves the quality of life for patients with chronic wounds, while still maintaining high standards of wound care. The intent of TM is to reduce, in a clinically equivalent way, the number of visits to a specialized clinic, but not necessarily to eliminate all visits. Further well-designed research is necessary to understand how best to deploy TM services in healthcare.
The authors reviewed the telemedicine wound care literature to determine what is known about its safety and efficacy in wound care and highlight implication for future practice and research.
Caroline Chanussot-Deprez, MD, is Dermatologist, Dermatology Department, Hospital General de Pemex de Veracruz, Veracruz, Mexico; and
José Contreras-Ruiz, MD, is Dermatologist and Wound Care Specialist, Interdisciplinary Clinic of Wound and Ostomy Care, Hospital General “Dr Manuel Gea Gonzalez,” Tlalpan, Mexico.
The authors have disclosed that they have no financial relationships related to this article.
Submitted July 13, 2011; accepted in revised form October 10, 2012.