When I first started in hyperbaric medicine almost twenty years ago, healing “chronic wounds” in less than 16 weeks was a reason to high-five your team. That was a rare “fast” heal! Last year, like many centers across the country our average days to heal, (the number of days it takes for a wound to heal 100% starting on their first visit) was less than 34! Thats almost a 400% decrease in just two decades. Not bad. But we can do much better, and I think we will.
My crystal ball works pretty well based on having seen our industry go through so many cycles, so let me give you my top 5 predictions for the next 5 years:
5. Patients will get heavier, sicker, more commonly diabetic, and older.
I know this is hardly a Nostradamus level premonition, however these drivers of the wound care need are important. Our country is number three on the list of the most obese countries in the world following American Samoa and Kiribati (another island nation in the Central Pacific) diabetes continues to surge ahead into ever-deeper epidemic proportions, and the tidal wave of baby boomers becoming Medicare eligible (over 65) will continue to grow for the next 11 years!
4. Wound Care reimbursement will drop.
Ugly, however undoubtedly true. With the previously mentioned “boomer” generation becoming eligible for Medicare, (an estimated 79 million people!) the solvency of the program continues to be threatened. Cost reductions will continue to be needed. That is why it will be vital for hospitals to reduce their wound care costs. We built our model just for this time period. At WCA, we use our technology to offer services at over 4 times less than other providers in our industry. Your hospital can then afford lower reimbursement since it will still be a profitable service line with an ever-growing demand. That will be the type of action that will be needed for Wound Care Centers to remain profitable.
3. CMS audits will increase, by at least 1,000%!
Why 1,000%? Because 1,000,000% my be a little high, for now! CMS has found the RAC audit tool to be very effective, and with the almost weekly changes in documentation requirements, a moving target on coding, and an OIG focus on Evaluation and Management levels, they know that centers without appropriate oversight and updates.