Donna Morrow, WCC DWC OMS RN, Wound Nurse Manager at Nizhoni Health
Can you give a brief overview of the latest trends in wound care management today?
Wound care has changed a lot over the years, as a result of technological advancements and has now become an ever-expanding field in which people are certified. When I first started working in wound care, people who treated bruises in hospitals were deemed the wound experts. However, it is a precise science today; you must follow protocols and get certifications for ostomy, diabetic wounds, and even primary wound care. More nurses in the field are becoming certified to deliver better patient care, which I think is a massive transformation
Technology has revolutionized wound nursing. Before, we used to travel miles across the state to see patients, make recommendations, and build a treatment protocol. Now, with technology, nurses in the field can receive a photo of the wound to get a clear picture of the condition of the injury. Such visibility into the wound provides critical information about the measures of the injury and types of tissues affected. This can save a lot of time for nurses, enabling them to see upwards of 20 patients rather than just 2 to 3 patients per day.
Please elaborate on how the adoption of technological innovations is transforming the wound care market.
There is an epidemic going on with drug abuse in America now. In many patients, we see wounds as a result of infection due to injections related to drug abuse. Many nurses may fail to identify an illicit drug injection that has led to a necrotic type wound unless they have prior experience dealing with such injuries. Patients who have a background of substance abuse might act different during the visit and may have newly formed wounded areas on their arms or legs. In such cases, technology allows the nurse to send a picture to the wound care expert immediately, so that they can identify its infectious nature, enabling the patient to seek immediate medical attention to prevent complications. I had such a case with a man in New Bedford when a nurse contacted me at night regarding a severe wound, and if we had not intervened swiftly with the photo, he probably would have lost his hand.
I'm not saying that depending on technology is always the solution, but if you can look at a picture and see there are complications, then you can help the patient by providing immediate medical assistance. This makes our job easier provides better support to the nurse on the field as well, allowing them to treat their patients efficiently.
"Once you stop trying to improve your care, I think that is the moment you fail"
What according to you are some of the key factors that deliver a better perspective to wound care?
I think experience plays a crucial role in nursing, and the whole profession is based on that. You can be certified, have a bachelor’s, or a master's in nursing, but going out and gaining firsthand experience is the most important thing. I get so many phone calls from people with dermatological issues that aren't necessarily wounds. Nevertheless, with my experience in the field, I can identify ringworm, scabies, and bed bug bites. In wound care, what you see is what you learn, remember, and quite possibly see again. Many nurses who start treatment for rashes or burns get worried that the wound is not healing despite adhering to standard protocols. However, with experience, you understand that it takes time for damaged tissue to come off, and this is precisely how such wounds heal. As I said, technology doesn’t replace the experience you gain, but serves as a supplement to optimize your job.
What is your advice to the emerging players in the wound care industry for delivering an improved patient experience?
Nurturing an open mind is the first and most important step for providing an enhanced patient experience. Five years ago, I chose this wound photo program, thinking it would help us out, but it took a long time to convince people to try it. We must acknowledge that things change over time; wound treatment changes, nursing changes, and so does the way we do business. Just because something is faster or more efficient doesn’t mean it is always better. Sometimes it’s the answer and sometimes it's not, but you never now unless you try.
Everybody in the industry, from top to bottom, must understand the patients’ comfort levels and need to communicate better with each other in order to deliver faster, more efficient wound care. Many patients fear the idea of leaving their homes and going to the doctor, or are unable to, if we can provide a service by going to them for specialty care, we can create an efficient inpatient experience. We need to always research the emerging trends in the industry and check out new vendors or products, once you stop trying to improve your care, I think that is the moment you fail.