Camera equipment for monitoring foot ulcers remotely has been rolled out in Derbyshire, with the aim to cut outpatient appointments for diabetics.
The year-long trial by Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust has installed web enabled cameras in three community podiatry services.
National guidance says diabetics with foot ulcers should be seen by a multi-disciplinary team, who are usually based in a hospital. The camera technology, an Aranz Medical product called Silhouette, allows the assessment to take place more locally, with the images being instantly saved on a server at The Royal Derby Hospital.
Partly funded by the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network, the pilot costs about £75,000 to set up. Forty patients have used the locally based service since it began in May.
Fran Game, consultant diabetologist at Derby Teaching, said that the technology means patients can travel less for regular appointments in the large area of southern Derbyshire.
The technology could also help ease growing demand on hospital consultants, she said.
Personally, Game had seen 10% rise in new referrals year on year, and she could see up to 90 patients a day.
“It means that we have the opportunity to release a little bit of capacity within the service, and we can spend a bit more time with patients when they’re here.”
Cameras are installed at Ripley Community Hospital, Ilkeston Community Hospital and Village Community Medical Centre.
Game said that with roughly 8,500 to 9,000 appointments a year, she was “hoping to get a considerable proportion of those seen in the community”.
Diligent monitoring of the foot ulcers wound is critical as untreated the wounds can lead to amputation.
In the Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, every year about one in 1000 people with diabetes have a foot amputated.
Under the new system of local outreach, if a patient’s ulcer was found not to be healing properly, he or she can return to a hospital clinic.
In 2009, research found that diabetic foot diseases cost NHS England over £600 million per year.
Partners in the project include: Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Entec Health, Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust, Southern Derbyshire CCG, Erewash CCG.