28 Sep Improved Data Collection: The Key to Improving Patient Outcomes
In the UK, one in 50 adults is currently living with a chronic wound, costing the NHS more than £8 billion in treatment per year (in 2017/18). Venous leg ulcers (VLUs) are one of the most prevalent kinds of leg ulcer and chronic wounds and contribute to these health costs due to low levels of adherence to treatment.
The recommended standard of care for VLUs is compression therapy, which utilises a variety of bandaging systems from two-layer, four-layer, wraps and hosiery, with a wide range of dressings and topical treatments. However, compression therapy can initially be extremely painful for some. To compensate for pain and other contributing factors, patients are at risk of receiving inadequate levels of compression which negatively impacts patient outcomes. As a result, patient adherence is reported to be between 12 and 52 percent.
Current state of wound care
Wound care is mainly provided by community nurses in the UK, who will visit patients in their homes to clean and redress their wounds. Some patients may require additional specialist support and visit hospitals or clinics to see vascular surgeons or tissue viability nurses. Due to the nature of wound care delivery, patients seen by various medical professionals may receive conflicting healthcare information and treatment recommendations, with a risk of this impacting healing outcomes.
A multidisciplinary team is a necessity for a successful overall treatment plan due to the complexity of wound care. VLU’s need to be treated with consideration for the extent of venous disease present in the patient. This requires a good understanding and a diagnosis of the various components involved, and the possible additional health issues by the first-line clinician who encounters the patient. As a result, there is a growing need for personalised treatment plans tailored to each patient’s specific needs and lifestyle.
With this in mind, leaders and providers in wound care are unified in wanting a more data-led approach to wound management, and treatment to help improve patient outcomes. Such data will also improve the quality of clinical research in wound care, providing a more accurate reflection of the current state of wound care in the UK.
A data-driven approach
Data compiled into a national wound registry would enable specialists to provide more personalised treatment plans in line with a patient’s medical history, as well as track the progress of healing and flag any potential issues earlier in a patient’s treatment plan. This will help wound care professionals identify risks at an earlier stage, preventing minor wounds from progressing into more severe cases that would need further treatment.
With greater insight into a patient’s medical history, the clinical team can also share healing progress and other health information such as Patient Reported Outcomes Measures (PROMs) between one another. What’s more, a common approach to wound management enables clinicians to better understand which interventions do – and do not – work well.
A path forward
Health data is a critical element of being able to improve patient adherence to wound treatment. Better adherence to treatment will subsequently support healthcare professionals with wound management, making the delivery of care faster, more consistent and more patient-centric. A national wound registry would help specialists and community nurses work together to deliver high-quality care best suited to each patient, while data is continuously collected to track healing progress. This more unified approach would support healthcare professionals to tackle some of the leading issues facing wound management and help pave the way for a brighter future in healthcare.
Read the full article in The Operating Theatre Journal’s latest issue (p28) by our CEO Bernard Ross.