Why Canada Needs NSWOCs Part 2: Lower Healthcare Costs
A System Under Strain
Every year, Canada’s provincial and territorial governments spend more than $250 billion in total on health care (Canadian Institute for Health Information [CIHI], 2018). In the next decade as the country’s population ages, that spending is only going to increase. Longer life expectancies and declining fertility rates are contributing to an overall older demographic (World Health Organization, 2015). Economic models predict that healthcare costs will rise by 1% each year between 2010 and 2036 due to population aging alone (Mackenzie & Rachlis, 2010).
So, how can we achieve a sustainable healthcare system?
Nurses Specialized in Wound, Ostomy, and Continence can Help
Registered Nurses Specialized in Wound, Ostomy and Continence (NSWOCs) can help alleviate the financial strain facing administrators and policymakers through the provision of higher quality care, reduced costs and improved outcomes for patients.
In our previous article, we focused on how the high-quality care provided by NSWOCs improves outcomes for patients, care providers, and the healthcare industry as a whole. Today, we will be exploring how NSWOCs can help reduce healthcare costs across the country.
NSWOCs Lower Healthcare Costs
Controlling costs is critical across every facet of the healthcare system. The growing prevalence of wounds and high expenditure for wound management across all healthcare settings have made wound care a particular budgetary focus in Canada and around the world. NSWOCs are trained to assess and treat many types of complex wounds with evidence-based strategies that can help prevent complications.
NSWOCs Lower Healthcare Costs By:
Providing advanced wound care practices that translate into big savings
One report estimated that Ontario could reduce costs by 66%—for savings of $338 million—by adopting best practices for the treatment of patients with diabetic leg and foot ulcers (Shannon, 2007). Lower rates of infection and amputation would account for $24 million in savings.
Controlling costs in community care
Wounds are extremely prevalent in community and home care settings. NSWOCs within community settings lower care costs by accelerating patient healing and reducing the number of visits they need. The results of one study suggest the more NSWOCs involved in wound management, the greater the cost savings and the faster the healing times (Harris & Shannon, 2008)
Continence challenges are also common among home care patients. The use of specialized care strategies for continence management, such as those delivered by NSWOCs, has also been shown to reduce healthcare costs in community settings while improving clients’ quality of life (Franken, Corro Ramos, Los, & Maiwenn, 2018; Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society, 2018).
Saving through remote-care delivery
Canada’s federal government is responsible for delivering primary and supplementary health services to select populations, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis. When people living on a reserve or in a remote community with no hospital nearby have urgent healthcare needs, air travel is necessary, yet, incredibly costly. In 2012–2013, the federal Non-Insured Health Benefits Program spent $28 million on air ambulances (Government of Canada, 2018).
NSWOCs can help avoid hospital visits by delivering high-quality wound, ostomy and continence care directly to these communities. Home care patients with wounds who receive NSWOC care experience fewer emergency room visits and fewer readmissions to hospital (Baich et al., 2010).
Evidence also suggests NSWOCs can serve remote communities from a distance via telemedicine, helping to meet Canadians’ expectations for equal access to healthcare in the process. One study demonstrated that NSWOCs can promote faster healing times through more consistent wound assessments and care as well as a higher likelihood that moist wound-healing techniques would be used over gauze dressings, resulting in faster healing times, fewer visits and overall lower costs (Baich et al., 2010).
For a More Sustainable System
Ultimately, with a tri-specialization in wound, ostomy and continence, NSWOCs are helping address the challenges facing Canada’s healthcare system. Employing NSWOCs is an effective strategy for controlling costs through high-quality, evidence-based care that leads to better outcomes for patients. NSWOCs bring about these benefits as care providers but also as sources of specialized knowledge for interdisciplinary healthcare teams, care consultants to other health professionals, as well as through best practice and protocol development, research and other avenues.
To learn more about the power of NSWOCs, visit the link below and stay tuned for our next article exploring how NSWOCs lead to better health outcomes for patients across Canada!