New Study Documents Cost and Impact of Chronic Wounds

  • Renée Duncan, UHMS Communications Coordinator
  • Volume 08 - Issue 4

Medicare expenditures related to wound care are far greater than previously recognized.

This is the conclusion of a recently published study by the Alliance of Wound Care Stakeholders, published online in the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research’s Value in Health journal. The study, the first comprehensive evaluation of Medicare spending on wound care, demonstrates the economic impact of chronic nonhealing wounds in Medicare patients.

The findings and policy implications are compelling. “An Economic Evaluation of the Impact, Cost, and Medicare Policy Implications of Chronic Nonhealing Wounds” analyzed 2014 Medicare data to determine the cost of chronic wound care for Medicare beneficiaries in aggregate, by wound type, and by care setting. This includes diabetic foot ulcers and diabetic infections.

Key Findings

  1. Chronic wounds impact nearly 15% of beneficiaries (8.2million).

  2. A conservative estimate of the annual cost is $28 billion when the wound is the primary diagnosis on the claim. When the analysis included wounds as a secondary diagnosis, the cost for wounds is conservatively estimated $31.7billion.

  • Surgical wounds and diabetic foot  ulcers drove  the highest total wound care costs (including cost of infections).

  • On an individual wound basis, the most expensive mean Medicare spending per beneficiary was for arterial ulcers followed by pressure ulcers.
  • In regard to site of service, hospital outpatient settings drove the greatest proportion of costs, demonstrating a major shift in costs from hospital inpatient to outpatient settings.
  • Surgical infections were the largest prevalence category, followed by diabetic wound infections.

The study was funded by the Alliance of Wound Care Stakeholders. The full text of the study is available on the Value in Health website and is scheduled to publish in the December issue.

The Alliance of Wound Care Stakeholders

The Alliance is a nonprofit multidisciplinary trade association of physician medical societies and clinical associations whose mission is to promote quality care and access to products and services for people with wounds through effective advocacy and educational outreach in the regulatory, legislative, and public arenas.

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