This post was written by guest blogger, Ryan Dirks, PA. Ryan is a Physician Assistant and founder of United Wound Healing located in Puyallup, Washington. Ryan’s team of Nurse Practitioners, specializing in wound care, partner with skilled nursing and rehab centers throughout Washington to provide “Team-Centered Wound Care.” Through weekly wound rounds, these Nurse Practitioners lead multi-disciplinary teams of skilled nursing home caregivers resulting in extraordinary clinical outcomes, education, prevention and great job satisfaction. United Wound Healing is seeking ARNPs skilled in leadership and a desire to transform their patients’ care through a team approach.
Have you become discouraged about your role as a health care provider? Have changes in documentation, Meaningful Use, and quality measures left you feeling dissatisfied and disconnected from what you find meaningful in your career? Well, you are not alone. In fact, the solution you may need may also be the best thing for your patients and our healthcare system.
“The strength of the team is each individual member and the strength of each member is the team.” –Phil Jackson former coaching legend of the Chicago Bulls
Perhaps the solution we all need is not found in regulations and quality measures. A transformation of health care that includes strengthening and building teams may prove not only to improve your career satisfaction, but improve patient outcomes, quality measures, and cost savings.
I founded United Wound Healing after years of working in medicine only to find that the team environment I wanted to practice in was not truly a team, it was just as broken as our national health care system. We created “Team-Centered Wound Care”™ in response to a dire need in local skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers. Patients with chronic wounds were being transported weekly to remote wound care centers creating uncomfortable and expensive traveling, often to receive basic wound care services that could have easily been performed where the patients were residing. The communication between the patients’ caregivers and wound care providers was less than adequate. Team work was non-existent.
Research has validated the value of team-centered wound care. In 2012, a review of retrospective cohort data was conducted to compare Medicare expenditures between two groups of skilled nursing facility residents with a diagnosis of pressure, venous, ischemic, or diabetic ulcers whose wounds healed during the 10-month study period. A rough population prevalence rate for chronic non-healing wounds in the United States is 2% of the general population and caring for these wounds exceeds $50 billion per year.
The study group included 372 residents who were managed using a structured, comprehensive wound management protocol provided by an externally-led wound management team. The matched comparison group consisted of 311 skilled nursing facility residents who did not receive care from the wound management team. The study group residents experienced lower rates of wound-related hospitalization per day and shorter wound episodes than comparison group patients. Total Medicare costs were $21,449.64 for the study group and $40,678.83 for the comparison group.
This study supports the cost savings and quality outcomes patients and our health care system need. However, instead of resulting from rules, regulations, and EMR’s, the outcomes are a result of teamwork, synergy, and collaboration. I would venture to say these virtues are also the very characteristics we all crave as health care providers and what is lacking in our own job satisfaction.
Caroline E. Fife, MD, CWS; Marissa J. Carter, PhD, MA; David Walker, CHT; Brett Thomson, BS
Wounds, Volume 24 – Issue 1 – January 2012