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The company works with health plans and providers to offer in-person and virtual wound care services
Americans are amputating double the number of limbs today than they were during the Civil War, including nearly 160,000 legs over the past year due to diabetic foot wounds. However, at least half of those amputations could have been prevented, meaning nearly 80,000 people are now disabled due to a diabetic foot wound that was poorly serviced.
Nima Ahmadi had this happen in his own family, which is what led him to found The Wound Company, an on-demand wound and ostomy care delivery company that improves patient outcomes, which announced its launch from stealth with $4.25 million in seed funding on Thursday.
"The existing wound care establishment is ripe with abuse and overutilization, there is a shortage of qualified, experienced experts in-home care agencies and nursing facilities, the majority of wound care today is delivered in physical facilities that introduce barriers to care, and nobody is proactively and continuously following patients through their healing process based on evidence-based, individualized treatment plans," he told VatorNews.
The Minneapolis-based company solves these problems by providing in-person and virtual wound care services, including clinical reporting, customer data integration, and workflow automation, on behalf of health plans and at-risk providers through certified wound and ostomy experts.
The rise in amputations
There are many reasons that the number of amputations increased 75% in a decade, including a rising levels of metabolic disease and an aging population, which are contributing to a rapidly growing epidemic of wound care and amputations. On top of that, wound care experts are hard to find.
"Wound care experts are highly trained, certified nurses; other clinicians interfacing with patients are rarely trained or certified in wound care. We can’t scale this expert group of nurses fast enough to match the demand with our aging population and growing metabolic disease rates," Ahmadi explained.
"Patients all over the United States are waiting weeks to see a wound care expert. Long waits can lead to infections and subsequent amputations. Experts being concentrated in hospital facilities limits and lack of technology have historically limited our ability to broaden access and be more proactive."
Finally, there's the issue that wounds aren’t closely being followed and monitored: treatments like hyperbaric oxygen treatments, advanced skin substitutes and vascular procedures are high-cost, and have dominated wound care spending, but they are often overutilized, and when done in isolation without anybody closing following the wound afterwards, healing and prevention objectives are not being realized.
All of this can lead to wound care beig debilitating for patients and their families, both physically and mentally, Ahmadi said.
"For the health system, the money we are spending without realizing better outcomes is a drain on resources. On an individual level, we are straining providers who are already heavily strained by growing patient volumes and staff shortages when asking them to confront the challenges of wound and ostomy care alone without the right expertise, support and tools."
The Wound Company's solution
The primary customers for the Wound Company are health plans, health systems, home care providers, and hospice providers; while the company also works with patients, at this time a direct to patient offering is not its primary focus, so it's primarily a B2B company.
Health plans, for example, engage with the company as a specialized provider who can help deliver better outcomes for wound and ostomy members at reduced overall costs. The Wound Company partners with them on the care of their members through unique contract relationships.
"When we are notified of a patient having a wound, our certified experts will engage and assess to ensure the member has the appropriate plan of treatment in place, the right supplies, and they will remain engaged for questions from the member and proactive follow up," Ahmadi explained.
"We may provide a combination of virtual and in-person care over the course of several weeks depending on the nature of the wound."
Home care and hospice providers, meanwhile, partner with The Wound Company to improve the wound and ostomy care they’re able to deliver their patients. That means that when they get a patient with a wound or ostomy, they’re engaging with the company's experts virtually to define a plan of care, make supply recommendations, and then stay continuously engaged to help elevate the quality of care they’re able to provide at the point of care.
Other health systems and providers partner with The Wound Company for its wound and ostomy expertise and ability to help improve the care they’re delivering.
"In all these customer relationships, we are responsible for making sure patients are continuously getting the highest quality wound care and unlocking cost-saving opportunities for our customers," said Ahmadi.
Over a dozen healthcare organizations, including health plans, health systems, home care companies, and hospice providers currently use the Wound Company's solution, and it has shown a 15 to 20% reduction in the total cost of care for wound and ostomy patients for payers, and up to 50% savings on supplies per patient for home and hospice care providers. At the same time, 60% of patients demonstrated progressive healing week after week, 90% of Stage I/II pressure ulcers resolved without advancing to a higher stage, and 100% of ostomy patients have a predictable pouching system and reduced chance of ER visits or readmissions.
"Our experts are also continuously engaged in the care of members longitudinally, providing oversight and coordinating their wound healing process end-to-end. We leverage advanced technology, analytics and various channels of communication to effectively engage patients and break down barriers to accessing care," said Ahmadi.
New funding and launch
The company's new funding round came from Sozo Ventures and Susa Ventures, who have backed companies like Viz.ai, Medallion, Zoom, Twitter, Square, Palantir, Flexport, and Robinhood. The funding will be used, in part, to expand the company’s national footprint; it's currently nationwide with its virtual services, but is providing in-person care services only in select states. It will also be used to expand the Wound Company's 25 person team, and to continue to develop the product.
"We are focused on expanding the reach of our current, proven product offering to more people with wounds that need our support, investing further in our technology platform to scale and further streamline care, and adding additional clinical talent," said Ahmadi.
All of this is in service of the company's ultimate vision, which is that everybody with a wound in America will have a wound care specialist from the company assigned to them overseeing their care, making sure they're getting the right care at the right time, and that they're healing appropriately, within the next decade.
"Our new infusion of funding will support our mission and help us to expand nationally and keep more limbs on patients. We can and must do better for these patients," said Ahmadi.
(Image source: thewound.co)
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