Improving Patient Records Using Allied Therapeutic Technologies

Regardless of the condition being treated, a thorough and comprehensive documentation of medical care and patient response are a crucial part of the patient’s daily record (PDR). Yet, lack of complete documentation is one of the most common oversights in medical care. Although sometimes easier said than done, this oversight can be easily be prevented by simply taking the time to stay current on each patient’s record.

Thankfully, keeping up with patient records is a task we can make easier for ourselves by taking advantage of several allied technologies that are now available to us. Learning when and how to use these technologies will greatly decrease the time needed to provide a higher level of documentation (and care) for our patients.

Humans are very visual creatures, so it follows that documenting a case with pictures and short videos is of great value. Depending on the software being used by the practice, there are many ways to incorporate this data into most system platforms. For example, Avimark, Impromed, and Cornerstone (among others) can easily import pictures or videos from a camera, iPad, or other digital devices into a specific patient’s PDR. To the trained eye, these pictures can reveal a myriad of minute yet crucial details that would otherwise be left undocumented.

Stance Analyzer_ROM MeasurementAnother tool to consider is a goniometer. With this simple tool, we can accurately quantify the range of motion a specific joint allows. Not only can we assess level of debilitation with this tool, but we can also monitor a patient’s glide path of response to medical care as we treat the patient.

The goniometer is commonplace in veterinary practice, but is also oftentimes combined with another tool primarily utilized by rehabilitation practitioners – the Gulick device. This is a tape measure like tool used to measure the girth of an appendage. This is a very valuable tool to use when treating patients where a certain amount of muscle atrophy and cachexia have occurred. Learning to use tools like a Gulick device is not complicated and provides a valuable way to gauge a specific aspect of the patient in an objective manner.

Stance Analyzer Golden Retriever SmallA more advanced piece of equipment, called a Stance Analyzer, can accurately measure the percentage of total body weight being placed on each limb at standstill. Again, since we know the commonly accepted range for these values, the stance analyzer gives us another way to assess, and thus better treat, each patient as per their presentation and response to medical care. Similar technologies include the latest force plate analysis devices and gait analyzers, which additionally allow us to analyze a dynamic patient instead of a static stance and thus can help us possibly detect other gait abnormalities such as changes in stride length, etc.

Digital Thermal Imaging ExampleDigital thermal imaging (DTI) is another example of an allied technology with which we can better assess our patients. This device allows us to visualize variances in thermal radiation being emitted from a patient. With this tool, we can detect not only areas that may be inflamed, but those where there may be other changes to blood flow as well. This technology can also be very useful in detecting tissue asymmetry, thus coordinating with our other tools in assessing any potential sites of overcompensation.

Utilizing and recording the results of these allied technologies not only helps us to provide thorough case documentation, but also allows the clinician to provide optimal care for each patient. The clinician and technician can better follow each case’s glide path of response and adjust further medical care accordingly. As with other modalities in veterinary medicine, all of these latest advancements in allied technologies are continuously being improved upon, so it would be advantageous to remain current on these developments and consider investing in technologies like these that are able to save staff time, while simultaneously improving standard of care.

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November 2017
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