Need for Evaluating Long-Term Costs for NPWT

Published: 30 Apr 2011

By Brahadeesh Chandrasekaran, Research Associate, Healthcare

The wound care market has witnessed significant technological advancements and innovations over the last 10 years. These advancements have intended to provide greater performance while minimizing the overall costs of the treatment of chronic wounds. Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) or Topical Negative Pressure (TNP) is used for wound management by using negative pressure or sub-atmospheric pressure in the wound bed. This therapy is said to decrease the healing time by increasing the blood flow, reducing interstitial oedema, reducing micro-organisms load, promoting granulation tissue formation and cell proliferation. NPWT is preferred in the United States, while moist wound dressings are still the favorites in advanced wound management in Europe. The NPWT is considered expensive compared to dressings by the funding bodies. This is mainly because of the cost of dressings, tubing and canisters, and rent of the pumps, which are expensive compared to the dressings. However, in advanced wound dressings, the costs are usually calculated for the dressings, which contribute only a portion of the total expenses of the treatment. Other costs like nursing time and hospitalizations hold the majority of the expenses. It is important to evaluate the economics of the advanced wound management dressings and therapies, as it updates and informs the decision-makers in healthcare.

Very few literatures comparing the costs of NPWT with wound dressings have been published, and some suggest that when used properly, NPWT can be cost-effective compared to conventional wound care dressings. In 2008, Flack et al evaluated the cost benefits of both NPWT and other advanced wound dressings in treatment of diabetic foot ulcers in the U.S. They used the Markov modeling approach for a period of one year and calculated the cost per amputation and cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY). According to their findings, NPWT was much more effective and less expensive than conventional wound dressings.

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