Over the past few weeks I have been reading a book entitled; “The Innovators Prescription: A Disruptive Solution for HealthCare by Clayton M. Christensen, and I can’t help but feel that the solution the authors advocate is almost a direct description of out-patient Wound Care Programs. The book outlines a disruptive approach that allows patients with specific health disorders to be treated by a comprehensive team focused on one “problem set”, outside of the expensive confines of acute hospital space.
This group would be streamlined by having team members to facilitate each task, and must be able to share experience quickly to assist in immediate medical problem solving. Patient care will improve as this group comes to develop “precision medicine”, and costs will decline as an expensive therapy in the hands of only highly trained experts can be transfered to a wider population of health care providers using new technology and training. An arcane practice will essentially become the standard of care over time.
Wound Care fits this description perfectly; when I first started in this industry 15 years ago, we were ecstatic if a patient healed a non-healing wound in 65 days. Currently Wound Care Advantage is seeing an average of only 40 days to heal a wound. Amputations are being avoided by the thousands, and the cost of treating these patients has been dramatically reduced by keeping them out of the expensive venue of acute care. Medicare, the primary payor for Wound Care due to the patient demographics, sees a dramatic cost savings utilizing out-patient wound care programs versus the sporatic and spread out approach used in the past. A typical course of treatment will cost $1,500 to $2,000 dollars for a wound versus hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime for the care and surgery involved in an amputation. Not to mention that most patients like to keep their body parts.
WCA has been on the track of reducing the cost of this therapy for the past several years by putting all of the information our administrative and medical team members have developed online in our e-wound system. We have also developed a video-based telemedicine system which allows instant collaboration with medical teams across the country to help heal a patient faster. We have introduced models that significantly reduces the cost of providing these services.
As Congress and the American population rattle down the road to Healthcare Reform, I hope this model that our industry has developed becomes a center-point in discussions to deliver better care at a lower cost. That would be real Health Care Reform.
Mike Comer, CEO