Health Economics Information in Wound Care: The Elephant in the Room

Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2013 Dec;2(10):563-570. doi: 10.1089/wound.2013.0479.


Objective: To describe the role of health economics (HE) in wound care in relation to coverage and reimbursement.

Approach: Narrative description of key concepts with supporting references.

Results: The process of approval or clearance of wound care products within the U.S. regulatory framework often causes lack of high level of evidence regarding clinical outcomes. There is also a paucity of HE information and great reluctance to use such information (when it is available) by insurers and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, as well as other health-care agencies. Cost-effectiveness (CE) studies are the most common type of HE study in wound care, and the most common outcomes are incremental CE ratios (ICERs). Interpretation of ICERs requires considerable judgment when results are not obvious and is hampered by lack of contemporary and useful benchmarks. While many lessons have been learned in applying CE to coverage and reimbursement decisions in other western countries-including transparency of decision-making and involvement of patients-there is still a major aversion to using CE in the United States Applying CE to basic wound care and advanced therapeutics has the potential to decrease the costs of wound healing considerably.

Innovation and conclusions: Many CE approaches, including modeling, provide sufficiently detailed information that decision-makers can make informed decisions about wound care products in regard to coverage and reimbursement. The reluctance to use CE information in the United States, however, is likely to contribute heavily to the ever-increasing costs in wound care.