Researchers in Montreal are convincing physicians to use their phones instead of rulers to accurately measure the size of wounds.

When doctors are treating patients with wounds in their skin, including ulcers, the tried-and-true method is to grab a ruler and a notepad.

But when multiple health professionals are trying to track a patient's ulcer over time they often end up with conflicting measurements, so it can be hard to determine if a wound is healing or getting worse.

Dr. Sheila Wang, a dermatology resident and researcher and the MUHC, noticed this problem five years ago and decided to create a way to fix it.

"As you can imagine a wound is not a perfect circle so how you judge what's the maximum length would vary from person to person. So we're basing how a wound is healing based on these measurements that weren't done reliably," said Dr. Wang.

She co-founded a company called Swift Medical which developed a smartphone app to take measurements of wounds that are more accurate than what is being done by hand.

Her research was published in PLOS One, the journal of the Public Library of Science.

"Swift Skin and Wound is now used to monitor over 100,000 patients in over 1,000 healthcare facilities across Canada and the USA," said Dr. Wang.

She expects it will be useful for patients with long-term wounds who won't have to come to a hospital or clinic to be monitored, or in places where there is a high turnover of staff.