A hidden cost savings opportunity in advanced wound care?
Hint: There’s more to the equation than price-per-unit
It’s an all-too-familiar imperative for hospital and healthcare system supply chain leaders and materials managers. Addressing increased financial pressures most always leads to tough cost-containment decisions.
It’s a task that seems straightforward except… it isn’t, because cutting costs can’t cut into quality of care. In fact, the idea behind the drive toward value-based care is to lower costs in parallel with improving care.
With these additional considerations adding pressure, cost-containment decisions are anything but self-contained. Yet, because supply expenses constitute anywhere from 15% to 40% of hospitals’ total expenses,1 you’re the one charged with making the decisions — and making them work.
The reality: It’s not going to get any easier, because supply chain spending has been on the rise for years. In fact, the average U.S. hospital spent $11.9 million on medical and surgical supplies in 2018.2
Among the tens of thousands of products sourced, there’s one area that offers significant potential for cost efficiencies. We’re talking about that bordered foam square dressing. It’s a staple of advanced wound care — a category of care where costs tend to climb. Consider the numbers:
- Wound costs are on the rise. Medicare cost projections for wounds range from $28.1 billion to $96.8 billion.3
- Chronic wounds affect millions: About 6.5 million people — driven by an aging population and increasing chronic diseases. Resulting in nearly $25 billion in annual treatment costs.4
- Rising incidence of impaired or delayed wound healing. Patients with chronic diseases or recovering from surgical procedures are at increased risk of extended stays and health consequences such as infection, amputation, and even death.
Statistics like these are too consequential to ignore.
Bordered foam squares consist of an absorbent foam pad with an adhesive border that seals in wound drainage. The ability to manage this drainage, or exudate, factors heavily into dressing performance5 and overall care cost (more on that below). Bordered foam dressings of all types (shapes and squares) are the largest category spend in advanced wound dressings,6 and squares make up a significant part of the category.7
On the surface, choosing between two bordered foam dressings might seem like an apples-to-apples comparison, with only price per unit differentiating the two. But the truth is that subpar products will only add more costs to this already large category. Product utilization should factor into the equation.
The cost of excessive dressing use has been demonstrated in real-world practice. Clinicians have evaluated how a best-practice approach of “undisturbed wound healing” — leaving the prepared wound to heal with fewer dressing changes or other disturbances — can reduce product usage and staff time. Of course, this all hinges on dressing performance.
Case in point: Clinicians at Rose Medical center, a 250-bed community hospital in Denver, Colorado were dissatisfied with the performance of the formulary bordered foam dressing selected for (perceived) cost-per-unit savings. They found that these dressings caused a number of issues that led to frequent dressing changes. This not only ran counter to wound healing best practice — it was also wasteful.9
The acute care wound team set out to make the case for using a higher-quality bordered foam square dressing in lieu of the formulary. The results showed that the longer wear time of higher-quality dressings actually reduced the overall cost of care, despite a higher price point.9
Its hard to argue the math.
For many supply chain leaders and materials managers, advanced wound care is a broad, multi-faceted budgetary category. While it can be daunting, it deserves your attention.
Just focus on bordered foam squares: High-quality, high-value products that align with the best practice of undisturbed wound healing. That’s where you’ll find the biggest potential for savings and increased quality of care.
It comes down to making a purchasing decision, one that can improve well-being, both fiscal and physical. And that comes down to you.
- Abdulsalam, Y., and Schneller, E., Hospital Supply Expenses: An Important Ingredient in Health Services Research, Medical Care Research and Review, April 2019, 76(2):240-252
- Definitive Healthcare, “Healthcare Insights: Top Hospitals by Medical & Linen Supply Costs”
- Nussbaum SR, Carter MJ, Fife CE, et al. An economic evaluation of the impact, cost, and Medicare policy implications of chronic nonhealing wounds. Value Health 2018;21:27–32 .
- Chandan K. Sen, Gayle M. Gordillo, Sashwati Roy, Robert Kirsner, Lynn Lambert, Thomas K. Hunt, Finn Gottrup, Geoffrey C Gurtner, Michael T. Longaker. Human skin wounds: A major and snowballing threat to public health and the economy, Wound Repair and Regeneration, November 2009, pages 763-862
- IDR Medical Research, Phase 2 Report: Pricing Strategy for Mölnlycke’s Next Generation Mepilex Border Silicon Foam Dressing, October 2017
- SmartTrak 2019 data
- Internal Mölnlycke Health Care Report by Simon-Kucher, July 2019
- Brindle, T., & Farmer, P. (2019). Undisturbed wound healing: a narrative review of the literature and clinical considerations. Wounds International, 10(2), 40-48.
- Tyson, LP. Study First: Driving the Case for Improving Hospital Wound Care. Poster Presentation at SAWC 2019, San Antonio, TX