Better Wound Healing Lowers Medicare Costs

Today's healthcare environment -- and the economic environment in general -- necessitate efforts to lower healthcare costs, both for patients and for providers. This need is especially relevant to long-term care facilities, where residents' healthcare problems are a daily and expensive certainty. Both pressure ulcers and venous ulcers are common in long-term facilities, and the aging of our citizens means managing these facilities will be an increasingly significant concern for providers.

A recent study shows that a multi-disciplinary team approach that focuses on standardized care and prevention can dramatically reduce costs and improve outcomes. In a report published in Ostomy Wound Management, researchers conducted a retrospective study of two groups of Medicare patients. One group received  pro-active, standardized  multi-disciplinary  wound care – a protocol provided by Vohra Wound Physicians. The second group received a range of cares as would be expected in most nursing care environments. 

The standardized wound care protocol consisted of sharp debridement of nonviable tissue at the bedside and early aggressive topical treatment of wounds to prevent the need for systemic treatments. In addition, the wound care team addressed nutrition, wound offloading, vascular compromise, physical therapy, pain and diabetes control, and other support services.

The research revealed that the proactive team approach lead to wounds healing 21 days faster than traditional methods, an 88% reduction in wound related hospitalizations and a savings of over $19,000 for each wound incident -- a 47% savings for each Medicare patient.

Dr. Shark Bird, Chief Medical Director of Vohra Would Healing, commented, “We see patients in nursing homes that have various kinds of ulcers. We see lots of patients with pressure ulcers. These patients in the past have been shipped out to a wound care center or a hospital. But, it made more sense for a patient to be seen in their own setting. So, our physicians combine with nursing home chains, like Avante for instance. We come directly into the facility and provide the same service to the patient at the bedside. We do bedside debridements when necessary, whenever there is necrotic tissue that needs to be removed. We can come back on a weekly basis to assure treatments we implemented the previous week are working the way we want them to.”

Nursing home chains such as Avante partner with the Vohra Physicians to reduce re-hospitalizations and improve outcomes for their patients. Progressive nursing homes realize that treating these patients’ wounds at bedside without the need to send the patients out to wound centers  enhance wound healing times and patient satisfaction.

Michael Lubeslove, a patient at Avante at Lake Worth commented: “I first ended up in a skilled nursing facility, because I had very bad stage 4 plus bed sores on numerous parts of my body. I feel I should have come here first, because of the service, the kindness, and the way they do it. Previously, they had me in wound vacs, hyperbaric chambers. I came here and the doctor said no. We don’t need that. We’re going to heal you and we’re going to heal you good. I am now, in little more than a year, almost 100 per cent healed - out of eight years of having these wounds. It has totally changed my life. Totally.”


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