The body’s ability to heal itself is quite extraordinary, but in many instances, proper healing will require the intervention and assistance of qualified medical professionals. This is especially true in long-term care centers and skilled nursing facilities.
It’s no surprise that elderly patients don’t heal as quickly as younger patients. Aging skin can make wound healing four times slower than usual, which can have pretty severe consequences on a patient’s overall health. This makes wound care a critical service that not only plays a significant role in patient welfare at LTCs and SNFs, but it can affect everything from reimbursement to staff efficiencies.
Over 25 percent of elderly patients are reported to have at least one wound upon admission to a hospital. Around 2 million of these patients either come from or end up in a long-term care center or skilled nursing facility. It’s crucial that these centers stay on top of new innovations in wound care technology so they can better diagnose, treat, and monitor their patients’ chronic wounds.
Below are a few exciting breakthroughs in wound healing technology that will shape the industry for years to come.
Smart beds for ulcer prevention
Bed sores are the leading cause of open wounds in bed-ridden patients at long-term care centers and skilled nursing facilities. These bed sores, which are also known as pressure ulcers, are brought on by constant friction and pressure on the skin. If left untreated, these ulcers can develop into infections, tissue death, or gangrene. Smart mattresses can track a patient’s movement, temperature, and positioning and then use that information to redistribute a patient’s weight and contour to their body to reduce unwanted pressure on their ‘hot spots’ — all of which can be done without a nurse in the room.
3D wound imaging cameras
Measurement is a critical aspect of wound care, whether you’re treating ulcers or other chronic wounds. Before technological advancements in wound healing technology, medical professionals used paper rulers and Q-tips for depth measurement. Not only did this prove a time-consuming process, but it was fraught with inaccuracies. Today, 3D imaging cameras allow staff to measure and map wound progression over a period of time. Being able to observe changes in tissue structure and volume is essential to effective treatment, thus improving the patient experience and helping to heal even chronic wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers.
Using vacuums in wound care isn’t a new feat, but these typically required the use of small battery packs that didn’t hold much of a charge and made traveling difficult. Researchers from Australia expanded on these capabilities to make them more effective and convenient than ever before. Their fast-acting vacuum plaster connects to a pump the size of a smartphone, which creates negative pressure that removes dead tissue and other harmful bacteria and debris from a patient’s wound. Additionally, these small, lightweight dressings also increase blood flow to encourage faster healing.
Hyperbaric oxygen treatments
The doctors and staff at Philosophy Care affiliated nursing homes work to provide residents with individualized treatment plans based on their specific needs. One of the interventions used across these centers is hyperbaric oxygen treatments (HBOT), which are commonly used to treat wounds, infections, and other temporary conditions.
A physician or nurse might choose to implement HBOT for wounds that are not healing normally and in instances of certain types of toxicity. Hyperbaric oxygen treatments are often used to treat diabetic wounds, anemia, intracranial abscess, necrotizing fasciitis, osteomyelitis radiation injury, skin grafts, and serious burns, among others. They are also revered for their ability to improve a resident’s chronic neurological, vascular, and ophthalmic conditions as well.
Philosophy Care is proud to guide facilities through advanced solutions for wound healing. Their WOC nurses are the staff with the most up-to-date knowledge of pressure injury prevention and treatment, and are experts in wound assessment. They serve as the bridge for physicians whose patients are either at risk for wounds or have skin integrity issues that demand attention.
By utilizing the best in wound care technology, the treatment used by these skilled nursing facilities is conducive to a quicker and more efficient recovery. The future of patient-centered care relies on innovations in wound care and other healthcare technology, and centers who want to usher in this change must be diligent about implementing these new advancements within their facilities.