Personalizing wound care to educate and drive patient comprehension
Applying wound care dressings can be complex, frustrating, and frankly a bit scary. The process of changing dressings doesn't have to be complicated.
However, many times an individual's lack of understanding can create barriers to successful treatment and healing. Ambulatory patients are taught how to care for their wounds by their health team in a very brief and often times hurried physician visit, but most of the time there are questions about “how to” when the bandages are being changed for the first time. Education and retention on how to care for their wounds will reduce the need for follow-up calls and, potentially, complications from chronic open wounds.
Those at greatest risk for developing recurring wounds, such as foot ulcers, are individuals with chronic conditions, like diabetes. As of 2012, about half of adults – 117 million people – had one or more chronic health condition. One in four adults had two or more chronic health conditions.
The concept of easy-to-use wound supplies, coupled with patient “edutainment” (education and entertainment) – video tutorials designed to speak to the specific patient at the specific time of need – may be one option for patients or LTC staff who are just starting to care for a wound, have changing needs, or may do better with additional instruction.
The team at Advanced Tissue, with over 17 years of experience in providing wound dressings, identified an opportunity to help address the needs of this population in an effort to improve outcomes. Advanced Tissue is developing solutions that will reduce the demands of the healthcare professional being asked to re-educate patients.
Health literacy is critical when changing dressings, as patients can't always comprehend how to use all the dressings when they receive the product in bulk and must determine how to use each product on their own. The development of easy-to-use wound supplies with unit dose packaging personalized to the patient's uniquely prescribed treatment, called Smart Pac, was designed to reduce confusion by providing the necessary supplies for each dressing change.
While convenient easy-to-understand packaging is one step, being able to correctly change a dressing can sometimes be confusing, especially if the physician's instructions change over time due to other factors. What if access to instructional information was available any time – day or night? Today's technology provides an opportunity to engage and educate individuals, whether it's the patient themselves or LTC staff with content that can be customized to the patient's unique needs. Customized video tutorials are designed to help answer questions about how to use the wound supplies that were uniquely prescribed. The goal is to educate and empower patients and LTC staff by taking the guesswork out of caring for a specific wound, and may alleviate the number of calls doctors' offices. These videos are made available via a QR code in their wound care supplies, a URL email following delivery confirmation and a printed copy in the individualized packages. This helps allow patients to have more involvement in their progress to improved health, and the videos will help them be more compliant between office visits, diminishing frustration of not knowing what to do or how to care for themselves properly.
By providing single use packaging along with on-demand videos, patients learn how to care for their wounds when they need to, versus letting few days or even weeks pass before fully understanding proper care. The moment of need is when they are most likely to retain and comprehend, especially if it's provided to them directly in the correct amount. Treating wounds is a multifaceted process and needs to be addressed by both the doctor and the patient in the proper manner.
Advanced Tissue recognizes that wounds have the best chance of healing properly when patients are regularly seen by a healthcare professional and are compliant with their provided care instructions. The Smart Pac, personalized wound care packages, allow patients to have more involvement in their progress to improved health, and will help lead to better compliance and in the long-term lead to better overall health.
Kevin Lamb is the founder and CEO of Advanced Tissue and the CEO of OVIS Productions.