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Severe Wound Care Is Shifting to Post-Acute Care

More patients with severe wounds have gone to less costly facilities like inpatient rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities instead of long-term care hospitals since 2016. This presents opportunities for post-acute care organizations to develop a specialty in wound care.

According to a 2021 report from the United States Government Accountability Office, Medicare spending on stays for severe wound care declined about 2% from $2.06 billion in fiscal year 2016 to $2.01 billion in fiscal year 2018. “The decrease in per stay spending was likely driven, in part, by a change in where beneficiaries received care,” stated the report.

“The care of severe wounds is shifting from acute to post-acute settings,” observed Michele Carr, RD, DPM, NWCC, COS-c, FAPWCA, Clinical Support Manager at McKesson Medical-Surgical in a recent Relias webinar.

Take advantage of the trend

Building a wound care specialty can bring new clients to your business. “Wounds are expensive to care for, but they can be a revenue generator, as they are often reimbursed at higher rates when compared to other diagnoses,” said Carr. “When staff is trained on wound best practices, the patients have better outcomes. It is crucial to have trained, competent staff who can quickly and accurately recognize the wound and take steps to mitigate further tissue damage.”

Reduce risks

Pressure injuries, a common issue in wound care management, can pose a high risk to your business, whether you provide skilled nursing care to residents, home health care to clients, or another combination of post-acute care services. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, about 2.5 million people in the U.S. develop pressure injuries each year, and more than 60,000 patients die each year due to the condition.

Pressure injuries cost $9.1 billion to $11.6 billion annually, with individual patient care ranging from $20,900 to $151,700 per injury. More than 17,000 lawsuits related to pressure ulcers are filed every year. Comprehensive staff education and training can provide your organization with a powerful instrument to refine wound care management and promote greater financial stability.

Improve patient outcomes

When you have a qualified team, you’re more likely to reduce the frequency of healthcare-acquired pressure injuries among your patients, a common issue in wound care management. Instead of suffering reimbursement penalties and damage to your reputation and referral stream, you could spend that money sending multidisciplinary team members to wound care certification training.

A study by the Ohio Health Care Association (OHCA) showed that pressure injury rates improved when nurses were certified for wound care. OHCA divided the 46 skilled nursing facilities involved in the study into two groups, Group A and Group B. Group A facilities were those performing in the bottom 25% of pressure injury rates at baseline. Group B facilities were those performing in the top 75%.

The Wound Care Education Institute, a Relias company, delivered skin and wound care management training to the 199 long-term care nurses in the Ohio study. Group A facilities, which had an 11.4% pressure injury rate in 2016, saw that rate drop to 7% in 2017. Group B facilities, which had a pressure injury rate of 3.61% in 2016, saw their rate drop to 3.2% in 2017. Moreover, in 2018, Group A’s rate dropped to 2.44%, almost a nine-percentage point drop compared to its 2016 rates.

Improve retention and business goals

Giving employees a chance to gain specialized skills can improve confidence and be a tool to reduce turnover. The May 2023 LinkedIn Global Talent Trends Report found that companies whose employees learn new skills on the job have about 7% higher retention rate at the three-year mark than companies where employees don’t learn new skills.

The Relias 2021 State of Healthcare Training and Staff Development Report found that 67% of the healthcare professionals who participated in the survey indicated that staff development and training had a significant or major impact on their top business goals. 86% of the post-acute care respondents identified increased staff competencies as a benefit of their staff education program, and 79% identified better staff performance outcomes as a benefit.

Developing a solid wound care foundation can benefit your agency in many ways. By providing comprehensive education and training, your staff can acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively manage wounds, prevent complications, and improve patient outcomes. The benefits of wound care education extend beyond patient care, including cost savings, increased patient satisfaction, higher quality ratings, increased retention rates, and more referrals to your agency.


Wound Care: It Takes a Team

Regardless of the post-acute care setting, wound care education remains essential to a nurse’s training. But when viewing your team as a whole, many staff members contribute to wound outcomes.

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