Wound Management Dollars Shifting to Complex Solutions

September 13, 2017

There is arguably no market in medical technology that is more well established than wound management. The use of bandages and dressings to cover wounds and aid in their healing dates back hundreds, even thousands of years. Now, however, with the advent of new understanding in the biological and physical processes associated with wound healing, and the advances of medical technology to accelerate this process or simply accomplish it with less risk of infection, scarring and other risks, wound management is associated with far more complex technologies than simple bandages and dressings. It now includes dressings and bandages constructed of the necessary materials, and impregnated with the necessary biological, chemical or other components to optimize healing of specific types of wounds. Wound management also includes the advances of tissue engineering and transplantation to restore the integumentary’s functional and structural role. Finally, wound management includes a growing list of technologies from negative pressure wound therapy, positive pressure wound therapy, the use of hyperbaric oxygen and other physical treatment technologies designed to heal acute and chronic wounds. Despite wound management’s nature as a well established field in clinical medicine, it is not synonymous with a staid, readily predictable market for products and technologies. The emergence of so many different product and technology options available to clinicians, who have adopted them at varying degrees of use in practice, will result in a shifting of the market for these products between different segments of the market. Below is illustrated the distribution of the wound management products and technologies market in 2008 and in 2017, the difference being the net effect of new technologies penetrating clinical practice (or capturing previously untapped or under-served patient segments) at the expense of products and technologies less well positioned to succeed in emerging markets driven by cost, patient outcomes and other critical drivers.

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  As research in cell biology, tissue engineering, materials technology and other fields advance, the shares of the market represented by each of the major wound management technologies will shift, yielding a different market size and distribution. Fundamental to all advances, however, is the drive within healthcare systems to optimize wound healing, which in most, if not all cases, is based on minimizing the cost of wound management, but may also include important improvements in outcomes even contrary to cost trends.