New digital wound imaging and 3D measurement system is helping Diabetic Foot Ulcer patients in Derbyshire

A brand new digital ulcer imaging system being rolled out in Derbyshire is enabling care to be delivered closer to patients’ homes, by reducing the number of outpatient appointments taking place at The Royal Derby Hospital.

Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, working in partnership with Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, have launched the system (Silhouette®, ARANZ Medical) which is enabling the accurate assessment of foot ulcers at the point of care.

This new approach means foot ulcer healing is monitored digitally and the information is shared remotely in real time with healthcare professionals to support patient care. It is possible that the tool will facilitate early action where wound healing slows down, and that such early interventions, including the treatment of infection could potentially reduce amputations.

Silhouette® is being rolled out with support from the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network (EMAHSN) and means assessments and treatments can be provided in the community rather than a hospital setting. This is the first time a digital tool like this has been used in the East Midlands to support people with Diabetes and EMAHSN hope to roll it out in other locations if it is successful.

Diabetic Foot Disease costs NHS England over £600M per annum (Diabetes UK 2012) and 6,000 people with diabetes have leg, foot or toe amputations each year in England – many avoidable. In Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) the annual major amputation rate is 1.1 per 1,000 people with diabetes; the majority of amputations being preceded by unhealed ulcers. Therefore, it is vital that all patients with diabetic foot ulcers receive regular treatment and check-ups. Currently the majority take place in hospital outpatient clinics, placing a severe strain on this service and requiring patients to travel substantial distances for their appointments.

EMAHSN is working with Entec Health, the UK distributor for ARANZ Medical’s Silhouette® system and commissioned the tool following an EMAHSN Innovation Exchange Event which specifically sought to solve challenges local NHS providers and commissioners had around diabetes and the care of patients living with the condition.

The new system is improving staff and patient experience and is expected to improve capacity in secondary care from the reduction in outpatient follow up appointments. It could reduce up to 2,000 follow-up appointments per year.

Professor Fran Game, Consultant Dialectologist, Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said; “This innovative service means patients can be seen and monitored much closer to home, outside of the often busy hospital environment. This is better for the patients and is also easing the pressure on our foot clinic at the hospital.

“We are very happy to be collaborating with EMAHSN, the community health team in Derbyshire and Entec Health in order to put this technology into practice.”

Between September and December last year the service has seen over 140 people in the community and feedback has been very positive. David Hawkins, a patient from Ripley said; “Being able to have my check-ups at my local clinic is great. I have less distance to travel and it makes getting to appointments much easier. The process of being scanned using Silhouette® is also quick and I can see how my ulcer is progressing at each appointment. I like the fact that this technology means I can get seen on my doorstep.”

Albert Sutton from Kilburn said; “We only live just down the road from the clinic and it saves so much time for us, it is much closer to home than the hospital is, which means we are not spending so much time getting to and from appointments.”

Another major benefit is that EMAHSN helped secure critical investment and business growth for a UK SME company. Mike Hannay, Managing Director of EMAHSN said; “We’re incredibly pleased to be working in partnership with industry to deliver improvements for patients in Derbyshire. If a system like this was deployed across the East Midlands the projected savings would be between £0.9m-£1.8m per annum for the NHS”

Achala Patel, Managing Director, Entec Health said; “EMAHSN’s Innovation Exchange Event gave us an excellent opportunity to engage with NHS partners and develop a Silhouette demonstrator proposal with a leading NHS clinical innovator. EMAHSN facilitated the process from start to finish and continue to assist us to address barriers to further adoption. They are a great example of how AHSNs work with companies to ensure the spread of proven innovations throughout the NHS.”