Physical Therapy in Wound Care: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

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Management of chronic wounds remains unsatisfactory in terms of treatment cost and time required for complete wound closure (CWC).

This study aimed to calculate the healing rates, estimated cost, and time required for CWC in wounds; compare estimated wound care costs between healing and nonhealing wounds; and compare cost effectiveness between venous leg ulcer (VLU) and non-VLU.

This was a retrospective cohort study performed at a physical therapy (PT) wound care clinic. Deidentified patient data in the electronic medical database from September 10, 2012 to January 23, 2015 were extracted.

Among 159 included patients with wounds, 119 (74.84%) patients were healed with CWC. The included patients were treated for 109.70 ± 95.70 days, 29.71 ± 25.66 visits, and at the costs per treatment episode of $1629.65 ± 1378.82 per reimbursement rate and $2711.42 ± 2356.81 per breakeven rate. For patients with CWC (healing group), the treatment duration was 98.01 ± 76.12 days with the time for CWC as 72.45 ± 64.21 days; the cost per treatment episode was $1327.24 ± 1143.53 for reimbursement rate and $2492.58 ± 2106.88 for breakeven cost. For patients with nonhealing wounds, treatment duration was found to be longer with costs significantly higher (P < 0.01 for all). In the healing group, no differences were found between VLU and non-VLU in treatment duration (95.46 days vs. 100.88 days, P = 0.698), time for CWC (68.06 days vs. 77.38 days, P = 0.431), and cost ($2756.78 vs. 2397.84 for breakeven rate, P = 0.640) with the exception of wound dressing costs ($329.19 vs. 146.47, P = 0.001).

Healing rates may be affected with patient exclusions. Costs at physicians’ offices were not included.

Incorporation of PT in wound care appeared to be cost effective. PT may thus be a good referral option for patients with wounds. However, the results should be interpreted cautiously and further studies are warranted.

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