A pilot study in Bermuda which used a new technology to assess foot health through temperature has helped more people avoid surgery.
Podium Professional is a portable thermography scanner for the plantar foot that can be used to assess the risk of diabetic foot ulcer, amongst other pathologies.
The device was used on 30 patients in a year-long study as part of Bermuda Health Council’s ‘Innovation Program – Digital Health Solutions’. Those behind the study say the use of Podium Professional will help “save limbs”.
Dr Kyjuan Brown, Medical Director of Northshore Medical and Aesthetics Center, who led the research, said: “As we know, with the increasingly high rate of diabetes on this island as well as its complications of diabetic ulcers and amputations, early detection is key as many of these complications are reversible.
“It is a great outlook for healthcare in Bermuda overall. Our pilot study took place for one year, following 30 patients over this period, with results showing promise as it relates to early detection and management of contributing factors. This is great news because it will save limbs and save money overall.”
Dr Neil Moncrieff, from the Bermuda Podiatry Centre, said: “Using the Podium Professional in clinic has meant that some of our patients have successfully avoided their condition developing to surgical intervention. Scanning feet really does save lives.”
A spokesperson for Podium Professional said: “The results in Bermuda have joined projects at other sites in Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany. In Bermuda the results have been impressive not only in regard to supporting diagnoses and treatment pathway selection for the patients, but also in helping to educate the patients as to their foot conditions with impressive pictures highlighting areas of concern inside the patients’ feet.
“Over time, the thermal imagery also clearly demonstrates to the patients the benefits of remaining compliant with the advice of their clinicians – a critical factor in keeping them out of hospital.
“The success of the initial project can not only be measured in terms of patient satisfaction and better longer-term pain-free mobility chances but also in financial benefit to the islands’ healthcare system. Even if we only consider the small number of patients whose feet have been scanned in this initial trial, the improved treatment pathway selection has meant that some of these patients have successfully been able to avoid their problems developing to the stage that a surgical intervention was the only solution.
“Effectively, these cost avoidances mean that the trial paid for itself within the first 12 months of operation.”
It is hoped the trial will be expanded across the island with more staff trained in the new technology and more appointment slots available.