Customised app gives a view of problem veins

Melbourne-based vascular surgeon Gary Frydman has launched an app for his patients containing pre- and post-operative information for the management of varicose veins.

The app allows the patient to take a photo of the problem area if they have follow-up questions and upload them to a secure patient gateway, where Mr Frydman can then view them and respond accordingly.

Mr Frydman, also a program clinical lead for NEHTA's continuity of care program, said that while the information contained in the app was customised for his patients and his practice, the app was free for anyone to use. It is currently available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod on the iTunes App Store. An app for Android devices is in development and will be released in a few weeks.

“It's a bit of an experiment, but basically it is to give patients more information and control over their care,” Mr Frydman said. “There's a lot of patient information about pre-operative and pre-procedure options for treatment and it has also got post-operative instructions, but the most important thing is a patient gateway where a patient can send me photographs of themselves.

”When someone uploads and sends photos, I will immediately receive an email wherever I am in the world so I can log in, check the photos and reply to the patient via email.”

Mr Frydman, founder of the Western Vascular Centre and a visiting consultant surgeon, said he regularly received calls from at least one or two patients a week post-procedure with queries, and invariably the patient has to return to the centre to see him in person.

“It's an inconvenience and a cost to the patient and to me because I have to find the time. My clinic gets overbooked but if somebody needs to be seen they need to be seen. This is to try to alleviate this – they can take a photo and send it in and often I'll get back to them the same day, whereas I might not be consulting for two or three days, so they might get a quicker and more appropriate response.”

The app was designed by US mobile medical app developer AppWorx, which specialises in mobile clinical photography. The app has been customised for Mr Frydman's practice based on a number of other apps designed for US doctors using its AppRx service.

AppRx allows the patient to take photographs with their mobile device and submit them to their doctor via a photo gateway. Photos are securely stored in the cloud, when they can be accessed at any time.

The company customises the app for the particular practitioner or clinic, including contact details and treatment plans.

“The information is really specifically for my patient but it's out in the public domain so if someone wants to use it they can get it,” Mr Frydman said. "[Other vascular surgeons] do things differently and I suspect that some of the information in my post-operative care plan wouldn't suit them."

The technology has far-reaching uses and would be good for leg ulcers, diabetic feet and any skin-based problem, so plastic surgeons and dermatologists would also find it useful, he said.

"The cloud end has the ability to record all the photos and print out a report for the patients to receive. I think the patient gateway is a great way to allow me to treat my patients better at minimal cost to myself, to them and the healthcare system.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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