A camera based technology that allows leg ulcers to be remotely monitored is being trialled in Wales.

Developed between Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (AMBU) Health Board and software company, GPC, the app uses a 3D camera installed on a tablet to take photographs of the wound.

The technology is given to nurses visiting patients and the images are then sent back to the health board to be analysed by specialists, as part of a screening process. This leads to a reduction in unnecessary trips to hospital.

Lorna Tasker, head of rehabilitation engineering at ABMU, said “the software allows us to measure wounds, or pressure ulcers, in a potentially more accurate and repeatable way than we’ve ever had available to us as a NHS service here”.

The app not only captures an image of the wound, but also allows the nurses to take measurements, record patient details and monitor the wound’s progression.

Currently wounds are measured by sight with paper rulers being applied over sterile acetate.

Some of the key benefits are saving the time of specialist nurses and improving the accessibility of the specialist service, Tasker said.

“We’ve been able to demonstrate real benefits in being able to provide remote support and giving the nurses an idea whether they should be responding urgently or whether it can wait until next week.”

The trial, which is in its early stages, is part funded by the Welsh Assembly’s Care Tech Fund.

Some of the challenges with the trial have been in encouraging the nurses to use the software and integrating it into the health board’s servers, said Tasker.

The next step of the trial will be to roll it out in a care home setting, which will begin this month.

“We would like to roll it out beyond”, said Tasker, “it would have potential to make quite a difference on an all Wales basis, but it needs to be integrated into systems in order to do that”. 

The company says that the 3D camera software is also being used in Cardiff and Vale and Manchester, and that it has been licensed for use in Australia and New Zealand this year.

Elsewhere, camera equipment is also being used for remote monitoring with two trusts in Derbyshire undergoing a year-long trial with web enabled cameras in three community podiatry services. 

A leg ulcer is a chronic sore that takes more than four to six weeks to heal, and will affect one in 500 people in the UK.