Venous ulcers are slow-healing wounds that occur on the legs, and healing can be slowed even further by lifestyle factors such as smoking or obesity. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center increased average healing rates by more than 25% by tracking wound healing trends and advising patients on lifestyle interventions that can improve their healing.
“Anything that speeds up healing can improve the quality of life for these patients and give them hope,” said Dr. Ulka Sachdev, one of the vascular surgeons involved in UPMC’s project.
While evaluating a patient’s healing, clinicians document the current size of a wound in Epic and monitor its dimensions. This documentation lets clinicians see trends in the wound’s progress and check on patients with leg ulcers regularly. Additionally, clinicians give patients education during visits and in visit summaries about lifestyle changes that would assist the healing process and improve their quality of life.
UPMC researchers Dr. Sachdev, Dr. Ellen Dillavou, Julie Bitner, and Dr. Eric Hager conducted a study to evaluate the effects of these protocol changes. Before the project, the average healing rate was about 57%. After the process changes, the average healing rate improved to 78%, and 29% of the patients in the study quit smoking.
Read more at Health Data Management and the Journal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders. Epic community members can read more about managing wound care in Epic on the UserWeb.