Health economics and quality of life
The cost of treating chronic wounds is significant. It’s estimated that, across Europe, 2-4% of healthcare expenditure is spent on wounds, and this figure is on the rise [1–3]. The average cost of treating a wound ranges from about €6,000–€10,000 per year . In the UK, up to more than £5 billion (€6.4 billion) is spent on treating wounds annually, based on current local healthcare budget projections .
Going forward, costs have the potential to spiral, as the population is increasingly made up of older people, with greater prevalence of co-morbid conditions . In fact, patients with multiple long-term conditions, such as diabetes, vascular disease and obesity, are “becoming the norm rather than the exception and the number of people with co-morbidities is set to increase” . Furthermore, as the population of Europe ages and the incidence of co-morbid conditions that give rise to wounds increases, costs are likely to rise accordingly .
Figure 1. Wound care expenditures in Europe [1-4]
Wounds that are stalled are more likely to develop complications, such as infection, which in turn require more-costly interventions and more-frequent dressing changes, both of which place greater demands on our limited resources . Wound complications contribute to longer and more intensive treatment, extended hospital stays, readmission, and specialist medical or even surgical intervention . These costs can continue to pile up if stays are prolonged because there are not adequate systems to facilitate early discharge, or there is a “perceived or actual lack of capacity and capability to manage more complex wounds in the community setting” . In fact, it is estimated that between 25–50% of acute hospital beds are occupied by patients with a wound .
When patients are discharged into the community, hard-to-heal wounds pose further costs in terms of the duration of treatment required. The longer the time to healing, the greater the need for dressing changes on a regular basis, which requires significant health provision time on the parts of community and practice nurses . In one study in Sweden in a community of 288,000 with a typical wound prevalence of 2.4 per 1000 population, the equivalent of 57 full-time nurses were required for dressing changes alone  .
Therefore, it is critically important to choose the right dressing at the right time. That is, using the most clinically effective dressing for the wound, particularly for hard-to-heal and stalled wounds. The wound management regimen should help control symptoms, promote wound closure and improve quality of life, while generating long-term savings by minimising nursing visits or use of specialist time, preventing infection (or, later, amputation) .
Woulgan Bioactive Beta-Glucan Gel brings savings
Economic modelling shows that the wound-healing efficacy of appropriately using Woulgan Bioactive Beta-Glucan Gel advanced wound dressing imparts significant savings when compared to using standard dressings (Figure 1).
Figure 2. Treatment cost in trial population*
|Average treatment cost per healed ulcer|
|Average treatment cost to reach standard of care healing rate (37%)|
* Calculated from extrapolated data of PP population
Because Woulgan is intended for use on hard-to-heal and stalled wounds, the long-term savings across the healthcare system could be even greater. A full analysis has been published in JWC (Journal of Wound Care) 2017: “The cost-effectiveness of a novel soluble beta-glucan gel”.
Patient quality of life
Hard-to-heal and stalled wounds can have a devastating impact on patient well-being that reaches far beyond the healthcare system and can compound healthcare costs. Although patients living with a wound are concerned with long-term healing, they may be more focused in the short term on reducing pain or odour, or being able to participate in their usual daily activities .
Patients who cannot maintain or increase activity levels may experience a deterioration in the status of their wounds (e.g. where mobility is part of managing co-morbid conditions). Anxiety and depression are associated with the long treatment durations of stalled wounds and patients may become non-concordant with their care . In such cases, the need for more intensive wound management therapies or the use of other services (e.g. mental health) may further strain the healthcare system.
Woulgan is a gel that is comfortable for patients. It helps to stimulate patients’ immune response, which can lead to faster healing in wounds that have become — or are at risk of becoming — stalled. These factors can help increase patient satisfaction and, in turn, encourage them to keep up with their care regimens — which not only addresses quality-of-life issues, but also has the potential to help save resources for the healthcare system.
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