August 13, 2018

Lifecare Camera - An Image is Worth a Thousand Words

Joona Pylkas

Head of Product Management, Imaging, Tieto

In healthcare, almost all documentation exists as text. It has advantages as a means of communication, but also some constraints. In general, the production of text is time-consuming: Doctors use up to two hours for documentation for each hour spent with the patient¹.

Use of speech recognition and dictation speeds up the production of text, but speech recognition works well only in certain healthcare activities. Dictation transfers workload from the doctor to the typist, but it causes a time delay in data availability and increases costs. It is also difficult to describe and express certain things accurately with text. For example, using text to describe comprehensively and without errors the movement range of a patient's limb or the healing of an inflamed surgical wound or a rash can be very challenging. 

Utilising multimedia content is an easy and effective way to reduce workload, costs and misunderstandings. Documentation takes less working time when the patient’s visible injuries and illnesses, such as various wounds, rashes and burns, are described with photographs instead of text. Video can be used for example to record a patient's limb movement, treatment measures and interviews related to treatment. 

Producing visual material is the first step towards better documentation, but information is useful only if it is available. Multimedia documentation should be presented to the medical staff in the correct context as part of the patient data. Automatic contextual linking is possible when multimedia content is stored together with comprehensive metadata. In addition to user and patient metadata, document label and taxonomy information can also be used for context linking. With metadata, for example a rehabilitation video of a surgical patient can be attached to a treatment package without manual linking.

With the Lifecare Camera mobile app, medical staff can efficiently produce documentation with higher information value in and outside the hospital. A service-based solution integrates with patient data and image archive systems. It allows the transmission of stored information to end-users in real time through existing systems, and no new purchases are needed. User data and the selected patient’s information is searched from the organisation’s systems for the mobile application user, and duplicate logins are avoided. In addition to Tieto patient information systems, the Lifecare Camera solution can be used in environments with 3rd party systems.

A textual patient report enriched with photos and videos serves health practitioners and professionals in many ways. Communication between the patient and the professional as well as communication between professionals becomes easier when textual documentation is supported by visual material. Operation becomes more effective when treatment documentation takes place faster. There is more information for care decisions in a user-friendly format, which supports decision-making and better care.

Read more about Lifecare Camera and the positive experiences of the city of Espoo

¹Allocation of Physician Time in Ambulatory Practice: A Time and Motion Study in 4 Specialties. Sinsky et al. 2016.

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