You’ll find many different definitions of “health economics” that depend on the perspective and agenda of the researcher, but it all comes down to your ongoing quest for value. “It is looking at a limited resource, in this case limited health care resources, and how you distribute them in an equitable way and use those resources to the best outcome,” stresses Margaret Halstead, Medline’s VP Health Economics and Market Access. What makes health economics so complex, however, is that the outcome in question is the very health of the patients in your facility. Multiple factors affect that outcome, but for the purpose of this article, we focus on patient compliance in wound care treatment and how the right wound care product can lead to better patient compliance and, therefore, greater cost savings.
Compliance vs. adherence
The term “compliance” is often interchanged with and gradually being replaced by “adherence” in health care settings—and there is a distinction. Experts note that adherence respects a patient’s rights and understands there may be circumstances beyond their control that keep them from adhering to a plan, Halstead explains, while compliance has really moved to a legal definition. “You have to comply with the law, and patients do have a legal right to choose not to undergo any treatment.” No matter your term, patients who don’t follow treatment plans translate to billions of dollars in avoidable health care costs, a significant contributor to the big picture of health economics1.
Wound care products in health economics
Providing patients with the right product helps them adhere to treatment, which can lead to better outcomes and ultimately improve overall health economics. “The most expensive therapy or product is the one that does not work or is not used, no matter how much or how little was spent,” Halstead points out. In treating wounds, nurses have many options, some whose design and application specifically aid patient compliance. They aren’t always the lowest in cost, but often the most cost-effective long-term. After all, Halstead says, “You’ve spent the money to get something. If it’s not going to be used, then you cannot get the therapeutic benefit and outcome, and you’ve wasted the healthcare resource and investment that was made.”
Two wound care products that improve patient compliance
One example of a product that improves patient compliance is a wound dressing like PluroGel. This concentrated surfactant helps remove barriers and provides an optimal moist healing environment to promote healing. “Many ways of debriding a patient are painful,” Halstead says. “Nobody wants to do something that’s painful to themselves, nor does a caregiver.” The unique qualities of the product’s Micelle Matrix Technology include its ability to liquify in cold temperatures, which allows it to be applied directly to the wound; it also adds a soothing sensation to wounds like burns. “As you apply this dressing, the body temperature warms it up and it thickens,” Halstead explains. This means there’s minimal need to make contact with the wound bed, an often uncomfortable experience of wound dressing. It’s also nontoxic, so if it drips outside the wound perimeter to other areas of the body. Removal is as simple as rinsing it off, another low-discomfort event. The best part: “Once people realize it’s comforting and it’s simple to use and, more importantly, they typically see results, it is the biggest motivation in continuing to do what they were told,” Halstead adds.
Another example of a wound care product that can increase patient compliance is a customizable compression wrap like COMPRECARES. There are many forms of compression, but if compression is done incorrectly, it can cause harm. If compression is too difficult to apply—for instance, for someone with arthritis or gout who has trouble gripping a compression stocking—it can discourage patient compliance. When a patient has a compression garment that is easier to apply without clinician expertise, it helps achieve better patient outcomes. “Any product that considers patient adherence is already ahead of the curve,” Halstead says.
Patient compliance affects health economics
When examining all the contributing factors of health economics at your facility, it’s important to include patient compliance. This ongoing challenge can be a costly one, but you can help your facility save money by choosing the right wound care products.