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.
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.
- Purwins S, Herberger K, Debus S, et al. Cost-of-illness of chronic leg ulcers in Germany. Int Wound J. 2010;7(2):97–102.
- Hjort A, Gottrup F. Cost of wound treatment to increase significantly in Denmark over the next decade. J Wound Care. 2010;19(5):173–4, 176, 178, 180, 182, 184.
- Posnett J, Gottrup F, Lundgren H, Saal G. The resource impact of wounds on health-care providers in Europe. J Wound Care. 2009;18(4):154–161.1.
- Using Nanova Therapy System in Practice: a round table discussion. London: Wounds UK. 2015;11(4):Supplement
- Department of Health (DOH). Comorbidities: A framework of principles for system-wide action. London: DOH, 2014. Accessed November 2015 at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/307143/Comorbidities_framework.pdf
- Department of Health (DOH). Long term conditions compendium of information: third edition. London: DOH, 2012. Accessed November 2015 at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/long-term-conditions-compendium-of-information-third-edition
- Moore ZE, Cowman S. Repositioning for treating pressure ulcers. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Apr 15;(2):CD006898. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006898.pub2.
- Dowsett C. Breaking the cycle of hard to heal wounds: balancing cost and care. Wounds Int 2015;6(2):17–21
- Lindholm C, Bergsten A, Berglund E. Chronic wounds and nursing care. J Wound Care 1999;8(1):5–10
- Vowden P. Hard-to-heal wounds Made Easy. Wounds Int 2011;2(4)
- Zykova SN, Balandina KA, Vorkohobina N, et al. Macrophage stimulating agent soluble yeast β-1,3/1,6-glucan as a topical treatment of diabetic foot and leg ulcers: A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled phase II study. J Diabetes Invest 2014;5(4):392–9
- International consensus. Optimising wellbeing in people living with a wound: An expert working group review. London: Wounds International, 2012.