The Payoff of Wound Care Education: Get a Return on Your Investment

In post-acute care, specialized wound care education reaps financial and human rewards that can give you a trackable return on investment. The human side focuses on positive patient outcomes, naturally, but benefits also include clinician engagement and retention. Financial rewards of wound care education flow outward from the human benefits.

Your business model revolves around competent clinicians, care quality, referrals, and reimbursements. And your wound care education investment can help in all those areas.

Results of Your Wound Care Education Investment

When you invest in educating clinicians as wound care specialists, you can put your organization in a stronger business position by:

  • Developing a team with clinical expertise in wound care.
  • Promoting a culture of knowledge and awareness of current standards of wound care.
  • Increasing reimbursements by effectively treating more clinically complex patients.
  • Building your reputation as a wound care center of excellence.
  • Minimizing risk and liability with consistent, evidence-based care and thorough documentation.
  • Reducing hospital readmission rates by consistently attending to risk factors.
  • Improving employee retention by investing in education and competency enhancement.

Develop Clinical Expertise in Wound Care

Wound care certification education is the starting point for ramping up your organization’s expertise in this area. Strong, consistent wound assessment and treatment drives results, as Nancy Morgan, R.N., B.S.N., MBA, WOC, WCC, DWC, OMS, noted in a recent Relias webinar.

Proper wound care certification training equips clinicians with information on the latest standards of care for different types of wounds. This preparation includes updates on the latest products and innovative treatments available. As a result, informed clinicians can choose the right treatment for each patient’s needs.

For instance, clinicians dealing with coronavirus disease patients need to quickly find expert advice on effective treatment protocols. One area of concern is COVID-19 patients who have acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, and are placed in prone positions. Clinicians treating patients with ARDS need to be aware of risks related to prone positioning and tips for preventing pressure injuries.

Promote a Culture of Knowledge and Awareness

For the best outcomes, it is important to educate not just your nurses, but all members of the multidisciplinary clinical team. By doing so, you create an environment where the team can develop care plans that improve healing rates and lower incident rates, said Morgan. She is cofounder of the Wound Care Education Institute (WCEI).

When even one nurse becomes Wound Care Certified (WCC), that clinician can spread specialized knowledge throughout the care team. A WCC nurse can encourage others to replace outdated practices with proven, evidence-based strategies in wound care.

Increase Reimbursements Based on Clinical Complexity

Medicare payment models in skilled nursing and home health provide incentives for clinicians to be well trained in specialty areas such as skin and wound care. Chronic wounds affect about 15% of Medicare beneficiaries each year, said Morgan.

Complex, chronic wounds are a factor in qualifying a patient for the clinically complex category under the Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM) for skilled nursing facilities. An infected wound and the presence of an unhealed stage 4 pressure injury would add points to a patient’s non-therapy ancillary comorbidity score. Therefore, this score affects the PDPM reimbursement calculation.

For home health agencies, wounds are one of 12 clinical groupings the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) identifies under the Patient-Driven Groupings Model. In home health, clinicians filed 6 million wound care claims in 2019, Morgan said.

Build Your Reputation as a Specialist

By ensuring that your organization is known for its clinical expertise and positive outcomes related to skin and wound care, you can gain referrals for patients with complex needs. That is another potential payoff of your wound care education investment.

When team members are well trained, they can quickly find research to guide prevention and treatment of chronic wounds. A survey of wound care in the UK found marked variations in care and underuse of evidence-based practices.

Clinicians educated by WCEI, a Relias company, can network with other certified specialists and discuss the latest standards of care. Experts share research and information on the WCEI blog, at the Wild on Wounds Conference, and among private discussion groups.

Minimize Risk and Liability

As clinicians assess a patient’s skin condition and treat wounds, it is vital that they document and code clearly, accurately, and consistently. Knowing how to correctly document wound care assessments and actions taken protects the clinician and the organization.

Of course, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will not reimburse for costs associated with hospital- or facility-acquired pressure injuries. Therefore, accurate assessment on admission is crucial.

Gaps in assessment, prevention, and care of wounds can put your organization at risk of unnecessary expenses and lawsuits. More than 17,000 lawsuits related to pressure injuries are filed each year, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Education can reinforce proper wound care documentation, which is vital to any legal defense.

Reduce Hospital Readmissions

When certified clinicians know the risk factors and appropriate strategies to prevent pressure injuries, they can produce better patient outcomes. That is a highly valued return on your wound care education investment.

A study in Ohio tracked pressure injury rates in skilled nursing facilities before and after nurses received skin and wound care management training from WCEI. Researchers found that Ohio skilled nursing facilities with certified wound care staff reduced their high-risk pressure injury rates, some dramatically.

Any facility-acquired pressure injury can harm a patient and your organization. By training your team to prevent pressure injuries, you can reduce hospital readmissions and dings on your CMS quality ratings.

Improve Employee Retention

Clinicians who have WCC credentials are trained to follow best practices in preventive measures, interventions, and frequency of dressing changes. As a result, they can strategically choose appropriate procedures and materials that promote healing.

With your wound care education investment, you can open up paths for professional growth and enhanced patient care. Investing in your clinicians in this way can promote confidence and personal satisfaction in their jobs. Of course, employees with growth options and feelings of efficacy are more likely to stay with your organization longer.

Check Your Status and Invest Wisely

Considering the potential payoff from wound care education, you may find it wise to conduct a strategic review. Find out your team’s current level of knowledge by surveying your clinicians and leaders. Look at your patient outcomes.

If you see opportunities for growth, consider investing in wound care education for your team. In return, you can optimize patient healing, retain talented clinicians, and strengthen your financial standing against your competition.

Terrey L. Hatcher

Manager of Content Marketing, Relias

Terrey Hatcher has worked in professional development and curriculum design organizations for more than 20 years. At Relias, she has collaborated with physicians, nurses, curriculum designers, writers, and other staff members to shape healthcare content designed to improve clinical practice, staff expertise, and patient outcomes. Besides her current focus on healthcare solutions, her experience includes sharing best practices in education, IT, and international business.

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