When we think about wounds, we likely consider the physical pain they cause. But the emotional pain that comes with wounds – especially chronic wounds – also can be devastating. Many patients experience anxiety, depression or shame over their wound and the adjustments they need to make to their lives as they heal.
Caring for wounds is a science and an art that requires specialized training and expertise, as well as instinct and intuition. Clinicians and caregivers use many tools for helping patients, both psychologically and physically. As knowledge and understanding evolve, technology to manage wounds is also making leaps forward.
The science and technology behind providing care for wounds has changed radically in the past 25 years. While the body itself performs the magic of healing, ingenious developments in care practices and tools for clinicians in recent decades have made it possible to better help that healing along.
One technology that has transformed wound management is vacuum-assisted closure, which reduces air pressure on the wound through the use of a sealed dressing connected to a vacuum pump. These devices pull fluid from the wound and can help reduce swelling. The vacuum solution also pulls the edges of the wound together and can help promote granulation tissue growth and help close the wound.
“I was a resident in training when vacuum-assisted closure therapy came out during the 1990s,” says Dr. Ron Silverman, chief medical officer of 3M Medical Solutions Division. “The launch of this therapy was one of the biggest changes in my career practicing surgery. It dramatically changed how we cared for patients with significant wounds.”
Dr. Silverman adds that more recently, negative pressure for the management of closed incisions has been a phenomenal advancement that has demonstrated the ability to assist in reducing the incidence of surgical site infections in certain incisions that are at high risk for infection.* “These therapies have made a big difference in treating both acute and chronic wounds and for higher risk surgical incisions,” he says.
3M Health Care is a global leader in negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) and surgical incision management technologies. Clinicians can select from a range of NPWT systems and dressing options depending upon patient care setting, wound type and therapy goals. 3M offers a portfolio of NPWT technology, including 3M™ V.A.C.® Therapy, which delivers negative pressure to the wound site through a proprietary foam dressing, drawing the wound edges together, reducing edema and promoting granulation formation. It creates an environment that promotes healing and removes infectious materials.
“The ways in which wound care has evolved is truly amazing,” says Chris Sandroussi, global wound care portfolio leader at 3M. “These unique therapies can help change what would have once been a dire outcome.” He adds that the technology has an amazing impact and has continued to evolve. “Now, it can be used for ambulatory care – it can be taken out of the hospital – so patients can be seen at home or in a clinic. They can move back home and return to a somewhat normal life.”
COVID-19 has dramatically changed the healthcare landscape for wound care patients. Even pre-pandemic, many patients preferred to recover at home, according to recent surveys. “We have seen that people want more control over their own care, and, in many instances, that means they are demanding to get out of the hospital and into their homes sooner.” Says Chris.
At-home healthcare can also help some patients, providers and payers achieve better outcomes at lower costs, according to a recent study.
Healing at home is becoming more possible for patients with wounds, with advances in remote wound monitoring and mobile apps. Chris says that while new technology is great for enhancing care, it can often be overwhelming for patients. “We are trying to guide patients on their journey. While some patients benefit from a digital app to stay engaged in their care, some patients need more – they need to talk to someone.”
When patients are sent home, they can use a negative pressure therapy unit that has a cellular feed in the device. They can be paired with a virtual therapy specialist who calls the patient to get to know their medical history and learn about their lifestyle and what challenges they may face. And, if patients aren’t enrolled in the virtual therapy program, they can still work through their care provider to get product support from a clinical specialist if they need it.
Virtual therapy specialists follow up regularly – after dressing changes and to check in on any new direction from the care provider. They also can see if the device has been turned on and if there have been any alarms signaling a malfunction. Chris says that beyond clinical and economic impact, 3M Health Care cares about the patient satisfaction with remote therapy monitoring. “Many patients tell us they want this program. We believe this is making an impact both objectively and from a sentiment perspective.”
We are here to help address your challenges with leading innovations in negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT), surgical incision management, infection prevention, advanced wound care and skin integrity to help meet the needs of the people you care for every day.
*The effectiveness of 3M™ Prevena™ Therapy in reducing the incidence of SSI and seroma in all surgical procedures and populations has not been demonstrated. See full indications for use and limitations at 3m.com/prevenatherapy.
NOTE: Specific indications, limitations, contraindications, warnings, precautions and safety information exist for these products and therapies. Please consult a clinician and product instructions for use prior to application. Rx only.
* Griffin, Leah, Leyva Casillas, Laura. Evaluating the Impact of a Patient-centered Remote Monitoring Program on Adherence to Negative Pressure Wound Therapy, Wound Care Learning Network, 2018
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