By Paula Erwin-Toth MSN, RN, CWOCN, CNS
As we say goodbye to 2013 and usher in 2014, most of us reflect on the past and plan for the future. What does 2014 mean when we look ahead to wound care? This past year saw health care dominating the news in the USA; add a government shutdown, political divisiveness that polarized and in some cases paralyzed the nation, and of course continued worldwide economic and political upheavals, and the overall challenges can seem overwhelming.
Reducing the Rising Cost of Health Care
One of the goals of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to enable more people to have early access to health care. An anticipated benefit is the prevention of disease and reduction of complications associated with chronic conditions. As more Americans retire and enroll in Medicare and Medicaid is expanded as part of the ACA to cover more low income people, the strain on health care providers and all health care settings will be acute. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid is implementing scheduled reductions in reimbursement, instituting financial sanctions related to 'never' events and changes to the ICD diagnosis codes are all designed to reduce rising health care costs.
Faced with these myriad of challenges we need to follow the advice we give our wound care patients: remember your goal but tackle each piece of the puzzle individually. The big picture can be incredibly overwhelming. President Theodore Roosevelt is quoted as saying "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." That short sentence sends a powerful message that relates to action, reality and in a true sense of the word, hope. Many people are not aware of the fact that this famous outdoorsman spent much of his childhood ill and confined to bed. In this often lonely and isolated environment the future 'Roughrider' reached vast horizons through reading and imagination, making the most of what many would have found to be a dismal and limited existence.
Improving Wound Care Through Innovation
As wound care providers, we share our patients' hopes and dreams along with the realities facing us every day. We act as clinicians, advocates, counselors and educators. We leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding products and reimbursement for wound care supplies and treatments for our patients. We work with what we have available but are always looking ahead. There have been remarkable advances in wound care in recent years. New research in tissue regeneration and other innovations offer a wealth of possibilities to promote wound healing. Matching technology with patients and addressing the costs of healing will be an ongoing challenge. As always prevention is key. That is where reduction in health care costs and improvement in quality of life for patients and caregivers can be realized. By reducing the overall incidence of wounds we can then focus our skills, technology and resources on those in our care.
Wishing all of you, your families, patients and colleagues a happy, healthy, prosperous and cost-effective new year!
About The Author
Paula Erwin-Toth has over 30 years of experience in wound, ostomy and continence care. She is a well-known author, lecturer and patient advocate who is dedicated to improving the care of people with wounds, ostomies and incontinence in the US and abroad.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.