This article is the first in a series where we’ll explore the topic of wound care economics as it relates to patient outcomes and financial outcomes. We start by defining the difference between the price of a product and the cost of a product. Read on to learn more about this distinction and how it helps you select the right wound healing therapies for your patients.
With healthcare budgets under scrutiny and reimbursement regulations top of mind, clinicians need to understand the economics of wound care in order to validate their product requests and recommendations.
A growing shortage of nurses and an increasing aging population means there’s also a growing number of patients with hard-to-heal wounds, often due to diseases such as obesity, diabetes and venous insufficiency.¹ More wounds translate to more money spent managing them. Some studies estimate as much as $96.8 billion is currently spent on acute and chronic wound treatments.²
It’s important to have a solid skin health plan, standardized protocols and evidence-based practices that help you choose wound care products that meet your needs.
Deciding on therapies based on economics
In every wound care setting, there’s a push-pull relationship between product needs and budget constraints. Choices have to be made about what to spend money on. Sometimes, it’s an easy decision and other times the complex variables involved make it more difficult. Looking at those choices through the filter of healthcare economics can help.
Although there are various ways to discuss this economic tension, we talked to experts specifically about the idea of the price of a product as opposed to its overall cost.
Factors to consider
Price is defined as the literal budget line-item for any individual skin health product, but as we learned from talking to wound care experts, “cost” takes much more into consideration. “I’d say the main consideration for me would be outcomes,” says Andy Wheeler, director of Therapy Specialty Services at VNA Health Group in New Jersey, and a Medline consultant.
Medline’s Vice President of Health Economics Margaret Halstead agrees about patient outcomes. She points out, “The most expensive therapy is the one that doesn’t work.”
Advocating for the right products
Now that you’ve learned why it’s important to distinguish between product price and cost, here are three tips to help you advocate for the right wound care products that consider overall cost and meet your clinical needs:
1 | Standardize products. “Adherence to a care plan makes it easier,” Halstead stresses. Knowing the right product to use at the right time on the right patient saves labor costs and avoids wasted product.
2 | Collect data. Rigorously and consistently collect wound care data that can support your recommendations. As Wheeler notes, “Eventually someone will come knocking and say you need to explain why you spent so much on this product or, ‘OK, we spent X amount, but what were the outcomes?’” By keeping that data, you’ll more easily be able to answer those questions.
3 | Educate people. “A good decision is based on knowledge, not numbers,” Halstead notes. That’s why education is so important to encourage clinical adoption. As Wheeler adds, “If there’s not adoption by the end user, we’re just not going to be able to push the usage of it, despite it being a useful and effective product.” He encourages wound care professionals to take advantage of the education offered by product partners. “Any time a vendor can assist with education, explaining the science behind the products or giving people a better understanding about how to use them, it helps in our mission to be cost-effective and helps you weigh the cost versus price.”
Wound care economics includes many measures. One of the most important ones is the distinction between price of a product and overall cost. The overall cost takes into account factors such as application time and wound healing outcomes. It’s important to know how to advocate for the products that consider price and cost and meet your clinical needs and patient outcome expectations.