HUS Meilahti hospital district in Helsinki. LEHTIKUVA

Health & wellbeing

The overall healthcare costs associated with wound care are comparable to the costs of treating obesity or cancer. By implementing a tiered approach to wound care and enhancing expertise in the field, it is possible to optimize the allocation of resources and reduce the prevalence of wounds.

Approximately one percent of individuals over the age of 50 suffer from chronic, poorly healing wounds.

Direct costs related to wound care constitute about 2-5 percent of total healthcare expenditures, placing them in the same range as the costs of treating obesity or cancer. Based on a survey conducted by Lohja Hospital and primary healthcare providers in the region, it has been estimated that healthcare facilities in the HUS area perform over half a million wound care sessions annually.

"Significant improvements can be made in wound care. Currently, the provision of wound care is fragmented among multiple stakeholders, and the healthcare resource requirements resulting from wounds are not adequately recognized," explains Dr. Milla Kallio, a vascular surgeon at the HUS Wound Center.

Dr. Kallio emphasizes that while new innovations in wound care are valuable, they are marginal compared to the importance of addressing fundamental aspects and ensuring the functionality of care pathways. "A large proportion of wounds can be prevented, and the majority of existing wounds can be managed in primary healthcare settings. Basic aspects such as prevention, local wound care, edema management, and offloading should be mastered in all healthcare units," says Dr. Kallio.

Specialized expertise is needed both in primary healthcare and specialized healthcare settings. "The concentration of expertise in wound care wards and clinics has proven effective in primary healthcare. In specialized healthcare, our responsibilities include managing wounds suspected to be associated with arterial disease, infections requiring hospitalization, wounds requiring surgery, and wounds with unclear etiology," explains Dr. Heli Lagus, Chief Physician of Plastic Surgery.

Networks and Enhanced Expertise Yield Positive Results

A comprehensive Swedish population-based study published in 2015 demonstrated that organizing wound care networks and increasing expertise led to a reduction in wound prevalence, even as the population aged and the prevalence of illnesses exacerbating wound healing increased.

"We have also achieved positive results in Finland. In the Karviais municipality's joint municipal authority for social and health services, a development project was implemented to enhance expertise in wound care and improve the internal care pathway. The number of wound care sessions recorded in nursing homes decreased by over 50 percent during the project," says Dr. Lagus.

Establishment of the HUS Wound Center Five Years Ago

The HUS Wound Center, established in 2018, comprises a plastic surgeon, vascular surgeon, dermatologist, general practitioner specializing in wound care training, and two authorized wound care nurses with higher vocational education. The center's mission is to develop the wound care network and promote the integration of primary healthcare and specialized healthcare services.