Wound care market set to explode

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The wound care market is growing at roughly 10% annually, with an estimated five to seven million chronic wound incidents per year, according to Sheila Ewing, an industry analyst with Frost & Sullivan in San Antonio. Add to that an aging population, skyrocketing rates of Type 2 diabetes and 15 million morbidly obese adults in the United States and it's hardly surprising that over $10 billion is spent annually to treat chronic wounds. Ewing has consulted on many projects covering the wound care spectrum, including compression therapy, wound closure devices, beds and dressings. HME News talked to her recently to get her thoughts on the direction of the wound care market.
HME News: This market seems poised for tremendous growth.
Sheila Ewing: Absolutely. It's going to be out of control shortly with all of the baby boomers getting older. The incidence of diabetic ulcers and venous ulcers is increasing. Hospitals are trying to find products that speed up the healing process and reduce costs at the same time but it could turn into an epidemic.
HME: Is there a trend toward treating these patients in the home?
Ewing: Some patients are going to the hospital for treatment and then going home and continuing treatment on their own. We're seeing more development of wound care clinics that specialize in wounds and are able to treat them. We need a lot more staff dedicated to that. Prevention is the key thing and then educating clinicians, so they know how to take care of these wounds.
HME: What's new on the market in terms of products?
Ewing: I'm seeing more hybrid products with collagen or silver in them. Silver is really the hot topic right now. It's all about trying to keep down infection and silver does really well at that. The silver market is growing at a phenomenal rate--more than 30% in each of the last couple of years.
HME: How can providers help patients stay compliant?
Ewing: You'll have more patient compliance with products that are easy to put on, easy to use, that don't change their lifestyle. You want products that don't rip the skin and tear the wound, that don't adhere to the wound and that are less painful for the patient to take off and apply. Patients don't want to be socially isolated with these dressings on them. They want to lead a normal active life with bandages or dressings that don't take away or look really odd wearing it, especially the baby boomers.
HME: What are some of the challenges facing the market?
Ewing: Reimbursement, especially for the homecare market. In moist wound dressings, silver is not reimbursed and it's more expensive. In home care, they want the least expensive products that will get the job done. And then, if the patient has to pay out-of-pocket expenses, that's quite expensive, so you see patients self-medicating and patients just buying something off the shelf and trying to heal it themselves or doing nothing at all and just making it worse. Especially with the elderly patient on a fixed income, how do they pay for these products on a consistent basis until it heals? Some of these wounds take six or eight months to heal.