09 Sep Medical technology and cost efficiency in US healthcare systems
Many medical treatment plans are designed to manage people’s illnesses, not necessarily cure them. However, this is expensive and challenging, both in terms of medical and clinical resources.
Historically, there are many medical conditions which have been difficult to cure, from diabetes to high blood pressure – meaning a ‘maintenance approach’ has been the only option. This has resulted in a healthcare system struggling to cope with the burden and cost of providing an effective service for an aging population – especially when people require more long-term care.
Addressing an old wound
Take the treatment of leg ulcers. 15 percent of older adults in the US suffer from chronic wounds, including venous stasis ulcers, pressure ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers, and two to three million Americans are diagnosed with different types of chronic wounds every year. This demonstrates starkly the growing scale of the problem.
Financially ,the annual cost of treating venous ulcers alone in the US is approximately $3 billion a year , making wound treatment a large-scale, time-consuming, and expensive medical issue. This is made worse the by the ageing population and increased risk factors such as diabetes, smoking, and obesity.
Traditionally, wounds would be treated carefully over time by cleaning and redressing the ulcer to prevent infection, with compression bandages being used to close the wound. However, these open wounds can take months to heal – if they do in fact heal at all – and managing their treatment requires a lot of time and resources from nursing staff.
An era of innovation
MedTech devices – such as the geko™ device are now being introduced – both in US hospitals and healthcare systems around the world – to work alongside or instead of traditional methods of treatment for chronic conditions. These can not only maintain people’s wellbeing but provide a permanent treatment to chronic medical conditions.
If we take leg ulcers again as our example: clinical data has now proven that with increased blood flow to the wound surface, to enhance oxygen and nutrient delivery, ulcers can be cured rather than just managed – with wounds closing in a matter of weeks, as opposed to months or not at all.
The final hurdle
The challenge now is reshaping how healthcare systems reward positive outcomes to enable new medtech devices such as the geko™ device to be adopted into existing treatment plans quickly and effectively – rewarding innovation and risk, without tearing up what already exists.
This is particularly challenging in the United States where healthcare payments are traditionally managed by either commercial health insurers or government payers, and healthcare providers typically operate a fee-for-service treatment model. However, the US is shifting towards a significant change: the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) is looking to take an episode-based approach to treatment and payment, making it fairer and more effective for both providers and patients.
Read more about how MedTech devices are helping to shape the US’s evolving healthcare system here: https://www.contemporaryclinic.com/view/how-technology-can-improve-patient-outcomes-while-reducing-financial-burdens