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The Future of Wound Care - Innovation or Commoditisation?

I’ve been working in the Wound Care markets for a few years now and no-matter how boring my peers in our medical team think I might be… I find the Advanced Wound Care markets fascinating! My step-mother is a Wound Care nurse based in Yorkshire and we often talk about new treatments and what her team tend to look for in new products… being the NHS, price is often on the list!

I have thought for some time about investment and innovation in Wound Care and I hope that what we currently have circulating in the markets won’t be the pinnacle of technology! I sincerely hope that innovation continues, the status-quo is challenged and disruptive technologies are a talking point in this critical health care market. Working with some very innovative companies in the AWC arena, I often talk to CEOs with new exciting concepts which are said to revolutionise treatments in Wound Care, yet they tell me the adoption of their technology seems to be slow. There tends to be different perceived reasons for this, as naturally every case is different.

I have seen both positive and negative reactions to the Wound Care market from external candidates from other medical fields – positives tending to be based around the ethical, personable and caring nature of the industry, with negative comments surrounding the lack of ‘innovation’ and ‘disruptive technologies’, resulting in the industry becoming ‘commoditised’. Perhaps an initial thought could be the issue of price pressures in the market, which are making it hard for new technologies and innovations to emerge as a mainstream treatment in Wound Care, but this argument could be made for all segments of healthcare, even those at the highest level of Medical Technology. Also new innovations and solutions don’t have to be expensive to purchase. Often new technologies offer price saving benefits, so are there other reasons for the ‘perceived’ slow adoption rate of new technologies compared to other more ‘lucrative’ sectors?

Since Negative Pressure Wound Therapy was introduced to the market by Kinetic Concepts Inc in the mid-1990s, it has been adopted very well, is commonly used within Wound Management and has been established as a mainstream treatment of wounds. In 2011 a new single-use concept was launched; PICO which has since changed the landscape of NPWT and demand in this category is set to increase over the next 10 years. I enjoy working in this segment and the benefit to both the patient and healthcare provider is evident through both a cost saving and patient outcome perspective. I wanted to use this example as a technology and concept that has broken through to become a mainstream therapy, but I see many other exciting technologies in Wound Healing not being able to break into the mainstream and become a commonly used Wound Healing technique…

There are many examples, but one I would like to use is Wound Care Biologics/Regeneration. I have been working closely in this area recently and what I would say is that traditionally the companies I’m working with in this space are small in comparison to the big players. I am not saying that some of the leading WC companies don’t hold these technologies, but in general I don’t see them prioritising these segments - instead focusing on proven techniques such as Advanced Dressings, Foams and NPWT (perhaps rightly so). WC Biologics for me is an exciting area of Wound Healing and offers the disruptive technology that the market is crying out for, yet some of my clients are finding adoption of the technology slow and conversation to this new concept is tough. Is this the reason big companies are not prioritising?

I understand there are many factors leading to this and I would be interested in learning more about opinions on the following; Is there a tendency to ‘play it safe’ with current WC techniques, more so than in other medical specialities? Is there enough medical data from manufacturers to support emerging Wound Care treatments? Does the decision maker have the autonomy when it comes to selecting products for practice and trialling new concepts?

I’m certain I will learn more on this topic as I continue to work in Wound Care, but I’d be very interested to hear your opinion, both from professionals working on the manufacturer’s side and specialists from the healthcare side… Ultimately, do you believe innovation will continue in Wound Care, or do you think barriers to entry/lack of adoption is an actual issue and will slow our progress?

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