The new year wouldn’t be the new year without a look back and a look forward at what’s to come. In terms of 2020, well…we’ve turned the page. For 2021, when it comes to wound care, it looks like there are several promising developments and further expansion of trends from the previous year on the horizon.
We spoke recently with Net Health’s VP/Chief Clinical Officer for Wound Care, Cathy Thomas Hess, and Kevin Keenahan, founder of Tissue Analytics, now a Net Health company, to find out more about what to expect in wound care in terms of products and technology in 2021. Here are a few insights they had to share.
1. We’ll see even more advancements in digital tools for wound care. Advancements in digital tools, including 3-D imaging, have proven to be game-changers in wound care, says Kevin. For 2021, expect more innovations like handheld imaging devices to visualize bacteria and oxygenation in wounds, as well as a major push for more interoperability. Plus, Net Health’s new Application Programming Interface (API) tool, which enables vendors to interface with the company’s widely used digital imaging technology platform, offers unprecedented access to the electronic medical record.1
2. Expect to see bigger pushes to use technology to prevent unnecessary diabetic amputations. The ongoing diabetic crisis (more than 10% of the US population has diabetes2) has led pharmaceutical manufacturers to continue to look for new ways to prevent below-the-knee amputations. These amputations often hit disadvantaged populations, highlighting ongoing disparities in care. Several manufacturers are introducing new biologics and other therapies to address diabetic foot care.3 Additionally, Cathy believes the ongoing commitment to quality care from providers, combined with value-based care initiatives, educational programs and new approaches to diabetic foot ulcer management and assessment4, will make an impact.
3. Hospitals will finally be able to leverage meaningful predictive analytics inside their electronic medical records. Kevin notes a clear move among hospital leadership for more artificial intelligence-powered software solutions that use best-in-class machine learning and computer vision to optimize documentation workflows and improve the quality of electronic medical records (EMR) data.
4. Telehealth will continue to expand, becoming the norm. While we all may be getting tired of the phrase “new normal” when it comes to telehealth, it’s accurate. Studies that highlight the benefit of telehealth5, including for wound care, its popularity among patients6 and cost-saving features mean telehealth is here to stay. What will change are efforts to make telehealth visits more engaging for patients and providers and initiatives to ensure data is captured for EMRs.
5. We’ll see more efforts to encourage care coordination across care settings. As telehealth grows, and team-based care expands, there will be an ongoing emphasis on care coordination across care settings (e.g., from acute to post-acute settings, hospitals at home, etc.) Such trends make the use of connected EMRs increasingly important. Additionally, Cathy reports that providers will want to ensure such efforts are focused on workflow process and efficiency and don’t create the need for redundancies in data entry.
While 2020 may be one of the most challenging years for us, there are trends started that will continue into 2021 and offer the promise of better care and outcomes for patients and greater efficiencies and advances for providers.
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1 Press Release, Net Health Launches Interoperability Program for Wound Care Industry Innovators, December 2020.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report: Estimates of diabetes and its burden in the United States, 2020.
3Markets and Research.Biz, “Global Traditional Wound Care Management Products Market 2020 . . . .” October 2020.
4Advances in Skin and Wound Care, Diabetic Foot Ulcer Assessment and Management, December 2020.
5American Family Physician, The Effectiveness of Outpatient Telehealth Consultations, November 2019.
6Implementation Science, “Engaging patients to improve quality of care: a systematic review,” July 2018.