null Wound care revolution: Put away your rulers and reach for your phone

New app piloted at the MUHC gives accurate, touchless wound measurements

Dec 17, 2018

Monitoring a wound is critical, especially in diabetic patients, whose lack of sensation due to nerve damage can lead to infection of a lesion and, ultimately, amputation. New research from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and McGill University shows that the use of a new app, called Swift Skin and Wound™, which accurately measures and charts the progression of skin wounds, could potentially have a significant impact on clinical management and patient outcomes. The app is currently being used by clinicians and healthcare professionals at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in Montreal. 

“Many of my patients are diabetic and are dealing with slow-healing foot ulcers; this app offers a way to clearly document and quantify the size of the ulcer to ensure it is actually healing, and if it is not healing, I can change strategies,” says Dr. Greg Berry, Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Montreal General Hospital of the MUHC and Chief and Mueller Chair of the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery at McGill University, who have been using Swift Skin and Wound since 2016.

“I can concretely show them that what we are doing is working. They get on board and are more devoted to the treatment plan because they see it is successful,” adds Dr. Berry who is also an associate investigator from the Injury Repair Recovery Program of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC).

The app was the idea of Dr. Sheila Wang, a resident in dermatology in the Department of Medicine at McGill University and a scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC). Early in her medical career, she saw that there was a problem with the way that wounds were measured and went on to co-found the company, Swift Medical, which developed the smartphone software.

“When I was in medical school in Toronto in 2013, I noticed doctors and nurses relied on rulers to measure patients’ wounds,” she says, “resulting in widely varied descriptions, depending on who was doing the measuring. It didn’t seem very exact, so I decided to do something about it.” 

Dr. Wang was first author on a paper, published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE, which shows that the app provides measurements of wounds that are more consistently accurate than those taken by using a ruler. They are as accurate as another measuring tool known as a digital planimeter, but using the app allows medical personnel to share and track wound information. She also recently published an article in the JMIR Dermatology that focused on understanding the type and location of skin and wound lesions found in long-term care facilities and mapping these on the body.

Swift Skin and Wound can be used remotely. Dr. Wang and her colleagues expect the app will play an important role in telehealth monitoring in the future. 

“The app allows different health care workers to collect images and data from each patient and to follow the wound over time, something which is very important in the Northern regions, where there is a high turnover of staff,” adds Dr. David Dannenbaum, Faculty Lecturer in the Department of Family Medicine at McGill University.

“This is one of the first wound measurement apps to be developed,” says Dr. Wang. “Swift Skin and Wound is now used to monitor over 100,000 patients in over 1,000 healthcare facilities across Canada and the USA. Its ability to transform wound care, even when used by those with little experience, will make it an invaluable tool for health care workers.”

About the studies

Au Y, Laforet M, Talbot K, Wang SC
Skin and Wound Map From 23,453 Nursing Home Resident Records: Relative Prevalence Study
JMIR Dermatol 2018;1(2):e11875
DOI: 10.2196/11875

Wang SC, Anderson JAE, Evans R, Woo K, Beland B, Sasseville D, et al. (2017)
Point-of-care wound visioning technology: Reproducibility and accuracy of a wound measurement app
PLoS ONE 12(8): e0183139.

Related stories
Wound-tracking software poised to be valuable telehealth tool, MedE-News, May 26, 2020

About the Research Institute of the MUHC

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) is a world-renowned biomedical and healthcare research centre. The Institute, which is affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University, is the research arm of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) – an academic health centre located in Montreal, Canada, that has a mandate to focus on complex care within its community. The RI-MUHC supports over 420 researchers and close to 1,200 research trainees devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental, clinical and health outcomes research at the Glen and the Montreal General Hospital sites of the MUHC. Its research facilities offer a dynamic multidisciplinary environment that fosters collaboration and leverages discovery aimed at improving the health of individual patients across their lifespan. The RI-MUHC is supported in part by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS).

Media contact:

Julie Robert
Communications Coordinator – Research
McGill University Health Centre
Cel: 514-971-4747