Case Study: Leading State-Wide SANE Program
Leading state-wide SANE program sees considerable success implementing Lutech digital colposcopes in their newly formed TeleSANE program
A university-based SANE, (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner), program recently implemented a state wide program using Lutech colposcope systems. With the goal of ensuring that victims of sexual assault throughout their state have access to expert care and resources regardless of where they reside, the program is set up to serve seventy-one locations across the state.
Through video technology, the program connects health care providers that are specifically trained in treating victims of assault with local clinicians and examiners who conduct medical forensic exams on assault victims.
The program is seeing considerable success in expanding access to much-needed, trauma-informed care for victims of sexual assault, particularly in underserved regions of the state.
Program administrators hope to expand the program’s reach by increasing both the number of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners and the number of TeleSANE sites across the state.
In recent years, administrators of the TeleSANE program have seen a pronounced gap in the level of sexual assault services available to patients, as well as in the availability of education, protocols, procedures, and equipment needed to adequately serve the needs of victims of sexual violence state-wide.
Planners and nurses also discovered that many patients in the region would arrive at an ER that was ill-equipped, under-educated, or unprepared to provide trauma-informed, best-practice-supported care for patients who experienced a sexual assault. This was problematic on multiple levels.
“Most hospitals did not have the funds to support forensic photography and colposcopes,” explains the assistant director of the program. “It just wasn’t in the cards.” With this in mind, the program pursued a federal grant in an effort to expand and streamline care, and to increase access to forensic exams for victims of sexual abuse state-wide.
The ultimate goal is for patients to be able to take advantage of superior care regardless of where they live. The solution was increasing access to excellent telecare, which provided examiners across the state, including remote and underserved areas, with access to experts trained in conducting forensic exams and the resources they needed to help more victims of sexual assault.
Acquiring the right equipment was an essential part of this process. In order for the TeleSANE program to provide superior, precise, medical forensic services to patients, examiners need a reliable, state-of-the-art colposcope.
The device needs to be mobile, easy to setup, easy to learn, and easy to use from day one. It has to be able to capture sharp, high-quality images that can discern minute details and any foreign objects or debris, and examiners need to be able to upload the images into a database where they can be stored securely and retrieved when needed.
Of course, with forensic exams, sensitivity and trauma-informed care is of the upmost importance, so it is critical that the colposcope allowed examiners to perform exams and capture the images they need in a short period of time and in a way that is minimally invasive. Specifically, the device needs to allow for a comfortable distance between the examiner and the patient, which gives patients peace of mind in an emotionally challenging time.
Additionally, examiners need a unit that doesn’t require them to spend hours in a crouched position, peering through eyepieces or camera lenses in order to capture the images they need. On top of all this, the program needs a solution that is affordable and can be implemented in the various TeleSANE sites across the state.
SANE administrators explored a variety of options for both cameras and colposcopes. Many cameras were cumbersome, expensive, and too complex for nurses and clinicians to incorporate into their exams. Other instruments weren’t mobile, were inadequate, or would become outdated in a short period of time.
Essentially administrators needed an all-in-one device that provided exceptional images, was easy to learn and operate, was mobile, and that wasn’t intrusive for the patient, or too physically taxing for the clinician.
THE LUTECH SOLUTION
To meet their needs, the program turned to Lutech Industries, a woman-owned and operated manufacturer of digital colposcopes. Lutech prides itself on providing solutions to complicated challenges in the medical and forensic communities, including hospitals, gynecology clinics, and SANE programs.
Lutech stands at the forefront of state-of-the-art clinical image and evidence gathering and is dedicated to helping those having just suffered a violent assault receive the best medical care and forensic services possible. Lutech’s LT-300 series of digital colposcopes is both advanced and affordable, making it a perfect fit for the TeleSANE program.
From its portability, precision lenses and autofocus to its ergonomic design and ability to secure and upload images, Lutech’s colposcope just made sense for the program, especially since it can serve as both a colposcope and a forensic camera, saving the program from having to spend “triple the money” on yet another piece of equipment. “It’s been a really good tool for us to use,” states the assistant director.
Prior to integrating Lutech colposcopes as part of the TeleSANE program, many hospitals in Arkansas were without cameras or colposcopes in their Emergency Rooms. Victims who arrived at a hospital after the trauma of a sexual assault would have to travel to a nearby police station to undergo a photographic examination. There, officers would take images with a camera to document the crime. It merely added stress on top of an already wrenching situation for the patient.
A second option was for the ER nurses to contact a sexual assault investigator, who would need to travel to the hospital to secure images of the genital region. “I would much rather have a medical professional take images than a member of law enforcement,” the assistant director states, adding that “the patient would be more comfortable with images left with the medical chart.”
Now, a TeleSANE consultant will be able to guide ER nurses on the use of the Lutech colposcopes. “We’ll see pelvic exams on our end, while the examiner looks for small injuries they may miss otherwise,” explains the assistant director. “We don’t want to miss a foreign body like condoms or debris. With Lutech, we can detect those. It’s very important for us to visualize it all. This is why it’s so important to have a colposcope that’s easy to use.” she adds.
Lutech’s colposcopes are so easy to use that nurses and local clinicians are able to conduct the forensic exams themselves, reducing stress on the patient and allowing the images obtained to remain a part of the medical report, instead of a police report.
Now that federal grant monies are allowing the program to bring its services to more state health centers and to a greater number of patients than ever before, program administrators rely even more on Lutech’s colposcopes to help the program expand and grow.
Thanks to the affordability of the LT-300 system, the program has been able to secure even more devices and provide a colposcope to every hospital in the state. This means that, instead of spending triple the amount for a single camera, the program is able to expand its reach and provide services to thousands of women at multiple locations across the state.
Telehealth has played a pivotal role in medical diagnostics for years; its role as a vital tool for servicing patients in remote and underserved areas has never been more important. Patients who might not otherwise have access to quality medical or interventional care rely on telehealth now more than ever.
Now, thanks to the TeleSANE program and programs like it, telehealth has played an increasingly vital role in the medical forensics arena, allowing examiners to work with remote teams to allow them to perform thorough on-site examination with guidance and support from remote experts. For patients who have been victims of a violent sexual crime, telehealth has proven to be an indispensable tool that gathers critical evidence for presentation at an alleged perpetrator’s trial.
Lutech is proud to be at the forefront of the technological advancements used in TeleSANE programs and to provide them with the tool that allows them to meet their goal of providing exceptional sexual assault services to patients regardless of where they live. The LT-300 series of colposcopes was chosen by the TeleSANE program for numerous reasons.
First and foremost, its ease of use allows even minimally trained nurses and forensic examiners to get up to speed quickly and conduct examinations almost immediately. And its affordability puts it within reach of similar programs throughout the country, and around the world. “It’s so simple to use,” explains the assistant director. “As far as using equipment goes, it’s very user friendly — and it’s the most affordable one out there.”
The TeleSANE program has built an admirable reputation of serving sexual assault victims by connecting on-site clinicians with skilled off-site consultants via telehealth. Using the latest video conferencing technology and outfitted with a telecart, a SANE tool kit and a Lutech LT-300 colposcope, the program allows nurses and examiners at local hospitals to tap into the clinical knowledge and experience of health care providers trained in treating victims of sexual assault, elevating the quality of care their patients receive, and broadening access to medical forensic care around the clock to victims throughout the state.
Lutech is honored to play a crucial, continuing role in bringing state-of-the-art colposcopy to the examiners and clinicians of the TeleSANE program and to improving the lives of victims and the health care providers that serve them, today and going forward.
Contact Lutech today or call 631-676-7432 to learn more about the LT-300 series colposcopes.