The Growing Need for Wound Care Physicians During COVID-19
Last Updated 14 May 2020
COVID-Changes in Healthcare Settings
As skilled nursing facilities are closed to visitors to limit contact with the most vulnerable citizens due to COVID-19, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes and the like are turning to telehealth to maintain patient continuity of care.
Wound care specialists typically visit patients on-site, but telehealth provides a safe alternative for physicians and patients alike during the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Medicare waiver and the CARES Act allow more Americans to access care through telehealth as Medicare can pay for more instances of Telemedicine and a wider variety of practitioners can offer it. There is now a growing need for doctors who can help treat older patients via video conferencing, especially those with chronic wounds.
Becoming a wound care clinician is an individualized, flexible career, with no on-call or weekend shifts. Wound physicians can originate from an array of clinical backgrounds, including, but not limited to general surgery, plastic surgery, vascular surgery, family practice, and internal medicine.
Becoming a wound care clinician allows physicians to put their specialized skills to use while implementing an interdisciplinary approach to wound care treatment.
Now is an urgent time to keep older people inside skilled nursing facilities with access to telehealth. Telehealth helps keep both patient and doctor safe by slowing the spread of COVID-19.
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What is a Wound Care Physician?
Wound care is a specialized area of medicine where physicians treat chronic wounds; typically pressure sores, diabetic wounds, wounds caused by surgery, or vascular ulcers.
During normal times, doctors visit their assigned facilities once per week and work with staff members to create a treatment plan for the patient. The wound care doctor will also prescribe custom wound dressings. Usually, a wound doctor will see 20 to 25 patients per day and records all visits within an electronic health record (EHR).
During the COVID-19 crisis, wound care physicians moved everything online, providing telehealth to vulnerable patients.
To maintain social distancing and to protect elderly patients, outside appointments are being rescheduled or even canceled. But chronic wounds still need to be treated. This is why it’s so important to fill the need for wound care physicians who are able to interact with patients via telehealth.
How to Become a Wound Care Physician
In order to practice as a wound care physician, doctors must become certified in this specialty. Various online training programs for wound clinicians exist, where clinicians can take advantage of earning an advanced Wound Care Certification.
You will learn about acute and chronic wounds, wound care treatment options, treatment of vascular ulcers and geriatric skin conditions, and more.
During normal times, doctors training to become a wound care physician would participate in a rounding process with senior physicians to learn the ropes.
However, with the COVID-19 crisis and the need to stay away from other people, robust telemedicine programs are in place, so physicians get the training they need without endangering themselves, other health professionals, and patients.
Being a Wound Care Clinician During COVID-19 Improves Safety
Vulnerable patients in skilled nursing facilities still need to be treated for chronic wounds during COVID-19.
It’s also important that nurses and doctors on the front lines aren’t exposed to unnecessary risk from wound care consultants, especially as critical supplies such as masks and respirators run low.
Telehealth allows wound care doctors to still treat patients during the novel coronavirus outbreak while maintaining a safe distance.
Plus, maintaining continuity of care is vital to helping patients fight chronic wounds by ensuring patients have access to expert wound clinicians even during the pandemic.
Keep in mind that to be a wound care physician, you don’t have to quit your main practice. Many physicians combine wound care with other roles, such as emergency medicine, general surgery or plastic surgery. Employed physicians have to commit to wound care at least two days per week.
It’s a good time to consider adding wound care to your practice. You can both assist your current patients during COVID-19 while also providing crucial telehealth care to vulnerable populations.