One of the questions I’m often asked when a hospital is adding a wound care service line is, “How do we find a good wound care physician?”
It’s a pretty straight forward question, but the answer is much more difficult. As a rule, wound care physicians come from a variety of medical specialties including emergency medicine, podiatry, vascular medicine, plastic & reconstructive surgery, and many others.
The most important quality, regardless of practice, is a passion for wound care. Wound care is unique because the doctor experiences the healing journey along with each patient through weeks or months of treatment. Many patients get very close to their physicians, and vice versa; they feel sad when the appointments end.
The next question that follows is, “Is one specialty better than another when hiring a Medical Director for our wound care program?” Like the first question, it’s not a simple answer because the specialty of each physician lends itself to how they approach wound healing. Doctors with a background in emergency medicine are trained to problem-solve quickly and call on experts when needed. A vascular disease specialist will take a close look at vascular status, and so on. Many of our wound centers have a multidisciplinary panel of physicians on staff who work well together, and these different points of view greatly benefit our patients.
When selecting interview candidates for a wound care program Medical Director, it’s important to seek out physicians who are well-known and highly respected within the community. In our model, the Medical Director takes an active role in the overall operations of the wound center. Our preferred staffing method is to have a panel of 2-4 doctors (more if volume allows) to oversee the wound care program. A moderately busy clinic at a community hospital typically generates about $350,000 to $500,000 in reimbursement to a physician, so it’s important to balance the number of physicians in your program to allow for appropriate salaries.
In today’s environment of physician shortages, many wound care programs successfully use physician extenders, e.g., well-trained nurse practitioners or physician assistants. They can greatly help wound centers operate more effectively, document more efficiently, and boost healing outcomes. With physician extenders, it is important to make sure you know the scope of practice for your locality to help determine their level of involvement.
No matter what type of medicine your wound care physician specializes in, ongoing training in wound care and hyperbaric medicine is very important. Wound care is an ever-evolving specialty and it’s important to stay on top of the latest products, procedures, and trends in wound healing.
Having a program partner that keeps your entire team up-to-date and compliant with today’s steady stream of ever-changing regulations is vital to any wound center’s success. If you have questions or concerns about your program, feel free to reach out to us. Wound Care Advantage prides itself on being the best partner.