Integrated Wound Care Program Resulted in Decreased Costs, Length of Stay

A case study of an innovative model for wound care suggested that an integrated approach to healing wounds could result in decreased costs of care and length of hospital stay.

A case study of an innovative model for wound care suggested that an integrated approach to healing wounds could result in decreased costs of care and length of hospital stay.

The findings of the Healogics study were presented at the American College of Wound Healing and Tissue Repair conference by Arti B. Masturzo, MD, ABPM/UHM and Lisa Q. Corbett, DNP, APRN, CWOCN. They explained how the Integrated Wound Care Community (IWCC) model creates a network of continuous care across acute, post-acute, and outpatient settings.

In this model, multidisciplinary teams, including specialty physicians who have undergone wound care training, take a patient-centered, evidence-based approach to outreach and support. The presenters explained that patients with chronic wounds often suffer from other chronic conditions, making it especially important to identify and engage these at-risk patients.

“A wound is a symptom of a larger problem — these are very sick patients that need holistic care,” said Masturzo in a press release, adding that healing a wound can take months of care.

The IWCC model aims to prevent wounds among these patients and shorten healing time for those that develop. The multidisciplinary team follows and consults with wounded patients as they journey along the care continuum, from outpatient to inpatient care to a post-discharge location, which could be a patient’s home or a skilled nursing facility. The model also fosters partnerships with home health agencies to ensure open lines of communication as a patient’s wound heals.

A key component of the IWCC model’s approach is the assumption that its specialty physicians are in a better position to help manage these wounds than traditional physicians, who receive an average of just 9.2 hours of wound education in medical school. The IWCC specialists aim to increase awareness of wound care by holding continuing medical education seminars and inviting nurses to spend time learning about advanced wound care in the clinical setting.

Findings from a case study within a Midwest hospital found that after implementing the IWCC model from 2014 to 2016, the average length of stay decreased from 9.41 days to 5.64 days. The total cost of care per patient also declined, from $10,670 to $7248. These findings could potentially have implications beyond the hospital setting.

"This is not just about managing a wound care center at a hospital campus, but delivering integrated care across a community,” said Jeff Nelson, chief executive officer of Healogics, in the press release.

“We have taken our highly effective clinic model, and extended that expertise to additional sites of service. We're thrilled by our early findings and we believe that what we are building will help us collaborate with payers and health systems in new ways — to lower costs, improve outcomes and improve the patient experience."