For home health agencies, successful wound management is paramount to overall business success. Because wounds are pervasive among home health patients, effective wound management can lead to a healthier bottom line, whether benefiting from higher reimbursements under the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM), more referrals or the avoidance of litigation.
Here is a step-by-step look at how and why a home health agency needs to build a wound care program of excellence.
Five reasons a program of excellence matters
Wound care is a massive piece of the home health care business. About 30% of home health and hospice patients suffer from wounds. A wound program of excellence allows agencies to treat these patients properly, effectively, and compassionately.
That’s because wounds are high-resource utilizers, says Katherine Piette, CEO and founder of virtual wound care management company Corstrata.
“For many years, some agencies have chosen not to take wound patients because of that,” Piette says. “They are staff-intensive, and oftentimes require multiple in-home visits per episode to change wound dressings. Wound supply costs are also included in the episode, and the cost of those wound supplies can rack up. These costs have to be managed.”
To top it off, expertise is scarce. Piette says that there are only 15,000 board-certified wound care nurses in the United States to serve the country’s 7 million wound patients. That leaves just one certified wound nurse per 500 patients.
“That’s not enough,” Piette says.
Furthermore, only ten percent of all certified wound nurses practice in the post-acute care setting, making access to those nurses extremely limited. This would be a problem no matter the payment model, but it’s particularly problematic under the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM), which provides high reimbursement opportunities for wound care.
“If you can manage those costs that we’re talking about, then you can capitalize on the fact that they are higher reimbursement episodes,” she says.
Lastly, she notes, wound care is highly litigious. Plaintiffs file approximately 17,000 lawsuits annually for pressure ulcers alone, with an average wound care litigation payout at $250,000, Piette says.
“We have seen those as high as $312 million,” she says. “So you can see that you don’t want to get tangled up in a court case associated with a pressure ulcer or any other chronic wound.”
Components of a wound program of excellence
There are two critical components of a wound program of excellence: wound imaging and analysis software, and wound expertise. Let’s start with the technology and the aforementioned fifth reason why a program of excellence matters: litigiousness.
“Lawsuits are often based on poor or substandard documentation, and wound technology drives standardization for wound documentation,” Piette says. “It’s important that you have standard documentation, that you have accurate wound measurements, and that you capture a wound image. If you don’t capture a wound image, and you’re in a lawsuit, you can guarantee that the family has a photo of the wound.”
Too many agencies are still measuring wounds with a disposable ruler, Piette says. “You can only imagine the accuracy associated with that kind of measurement,” she says. “The wound technology allows for objective measurements to be captured, while also analyzing the wound’s tissue type. With serial wound images, you have an objective view of wound healing. It’s the whole standardization of the wound documentation.”
The remaining key component for a wound program of excellence is access to wound expertise. Corstrata has found that home health agencies and hospices misidentify the wound etiology or wound type 30% of the time. This establishes an ineffective care plan and sets the entire care journey down the wrong path. Board certified wound nurses are critical in ensuring that wounds are properly identified and that evidence-based treatment plans with advanced wound dressing are established for optimal healing.
While advanced wound dressings are incrementally more expensive than traditional wound dressings, they promote faster healing times and allow for extended wear between dressings changes for reduction in the number of in-home nursing visits. Access to wound expertise drives improved clinical and financial outcomes.
How Corstrata helps
The name “Corstrata” comes from the merging of two Latin words, and it is a merging that speaks to the two components of a wound care program of excellence.
Cor means “heart,” while Strata means “layers.”
“Corstrata has a heart for the skin because the skin comprises strata or layers,” Piette explains. “And we are also cloud-based, so we’re based in the stratosphere.”
The company uses technology to deliver access to that essential wound care expertise, allowing home health agencies to leverage Corstrata’s consultation, clinical best practices and formulary knowledge to lower costs, improve patient satisfaction and improve clinical outcomes for wounds and skin integrity.
“We offer the complete package,” Piette says.
This article is sponsored by Corstrata. To learn more about how Corstrata can help your agency build a wound care program of excellence, visit corstrata.com.