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Staff awarded for using app to help treat wounds more effectively

Karly and Greg stood in an office building

Swansea Bay’s wound care service has been awarded for working alongside microbiologists to help prescribe antibiotics more effectively.

Staff worked with Public Health Wales microbiologists to use a wound scanning app to help determine when antibiotics needed to be prescribed to treat an infected wound.

The health board previously became the first in Wales to use the app which scans and measures wounds so staff can monitor them virtually.

Developed by technology company, the Minuteful for Wound app logs each image on a digital portal so staff can look at them to see how they are healing.

Pictured: Karly Harvey and Greg Williams.

It enables wounds to be assessed more accurately and consistently, while also saving time for nurses who may not need to visit the patient’s home for monitoring.

In recent months, microbiologists have been able to use the app to view images of patients’ wounds to assess whether antibiotics should be prescribed.

The team can compare the images, alongside the bacteria sample that is grown in the laboratory, to help determine whether it is infected and requires treatment.

Greg Williams, a clinical liaison biomedical scientist for Public Health Wales based in Swansea Bay, said: “I was asked to look at how we could improve our engagement and service with respect to wound samples.

“Our aim was to reduce the amount of unnecessary swabs taken and to educate staff around what to look for when they need to take a swab sample from a wound, bringing it all together to improve antibiotic stewardship.

“We introduced a new way of collaborative working and created infographics to raise awareness of how and when to take a wound swab for microbiology and help improve the information we look for on the request forms that we receive from staff.

“I noticed the wound care service were using the Minuteful for Wound app and I thought it would be really helpful if we could also see the wounds ourselves, so we were granted permission.

“This new collaborative dynamic has been a game changer as this previously wasn’t possible within microbiology.”

Being able to see images of the wounds themselves has not only benefited Greg’s team but also patients who are able to receive more appropriate treatment.

Improving antibiotic prescribing helps to treat infections more effectively and to combat antibiotic resistance.

Karly Harvey, operational clinical lead nurse for wound care services, has worked closely with Greg’s team.

Karly and Greg at the event in London

She said: “Having that access helps to guide the microbiology team as they can compare the images of the wound with the swab results which show if any bacteria has grown.

“Not all bacteria needs to be treated with antibiotics, as some can live on our skin and not cause any problems.

“What we hope we will see going forward is that we will be prescribing more appropriately and not prescribing when we don’t need to be.”

Greg added: “When we only received the wound swab and a request form, we could only give our informed guidance based on the clinical details on the form.

“But now being able to use the app to see the wound has helped give us the full picture.”

The collaborative work has also increased staff training and awareness around antimicrobial stewardship and prescribing dressings.

Antimicrobial dressings can be used to reduce the level of bacteria at the wound surface, rather than antibiotics being prescribed.

“This work ties in with the health board’s priority around antimicrobial stewardship, educating staff and patients to improve how antibiotics are prescribed and used,” Karly added.

“We are upskilling staff around how to swab a wound, when to do it and then around antimicrobial dressing choices.

“We hope that over time our prescribing of antimicrobial dressings will become more efficient and we are only using them when we need to.

“It has also benefited GPs. If they approached the microbiology team for advice around prescribing, they would be able to use all of the information available to help inform their decision.”

Now, the service has been recognised at the Journal of Wound Care Awards - staged in London - for its work with the microbiology team.

They were awarded the silver award in the Antimicrobial Stewardship category for their work together around using the Minuteful for Wound app to aid with prescribing.

Pictured: Karly and Greg at the awards held at the Imperial War Museum in London.

Greg said: “It was amazing to be recognised and I think it’s really powerful that we have spearheaded this way of collaborative working and bringing microbiology and wound care together.

“It's exciting that we are really at the forefront of doing this and hopefully this will become a standardised approach.”

Karly added: “We love what we do and we work really hard so it was just lovely to have that recognition.”

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