Former medical photographer Dr. Kara Burns conducted the research as part of her Ph.D. program and first interviewed 30 patients, clinicians, and carers. Then she created a pilot study with parents taking photos of their children's surgical wounds after they had undergone laparoscopic appendectomy at the Queensland Children's Hospital. 26 parents completed the study, receiving training and then taking photos every two days and emailing the photos to the hospital so that surgeons could review healing.
Parents said it improved their confidence in and satisfaction with the medical service, and taking the photos was a useful reminder for them to check how the surgical sites were healing.
Dr. Kara Burns. Credit: QUT
Surveys are one thing, a datapoint that may or may not have real-world inmplications, behavior is what counts, and the study showed consumers feel this data is valuable. It helps them have a sense of autonomy in their care, improves their view of the service they are being provided, and it enhances the relationship between doctor and patient because there is a sense of mutual respect and communication.
Parents felt like by having photos be valued their doctors were actually going above and beyond standard care
The door to the doctor's office was no longer shut after their brief meeting, people reported.
In one instance, a mother reported being so frustrated with progress for her 6-week-old baby vomiting, she changed doctors. The next doctor was willing to look at a video rather than believing it only if it happened right during the visit and eventually the infant had surgery to correct it.
In the US, with government controlling more and more medical care, it may be difficult to integrate patient-generated data, such as photographs, video, or information from apps or body monitoring devices, into clinical records, but agencies should consider it.