According to SmartTRAK incidence and prevalence data*, there were over 10 million pressure ulcers in Europe in 2021, with four million being stage III to IV. This means that pressure ulcers account for around two-thirds of the total number of chronic wounds on the continent and almost half of the hard-to-heal wounds. Given these eye-opening statistics, it would be understandable to expect that the first European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (EPUAP) Meeting in three years would indicate growing engagement in this area, both clinically and commercially. Unfortunately, on the evidence of the event in Prague, this wasn’t the case, with delegate numbers declining from previous years and a sparse exhibition hall missing many of the prominent wound care players. This begs the question; why isn’t there a greater focus on pressure ulcers and prevention? (Click to listen to SmartTRAK's interview with PU Sensor's CEO Johannes Walfidsson, "Advancing Risk Assessment for Pressure Ulcers." You can also download a complete transcript of the interview here)
Many wound care companies are increasing their focus on the prevention of the formation of wounds. Compression hosiery, Smith & Nephew*’s acquisition of Leaf and the increasing R&D activity around biosensors (as featured* in a recent SmartTRAK article) are all examples of investment into prevention. There does, however, appear to be a lack of technologies coming to market that could disrupt and enhance practice. Repositioning existing products as preventative tools or launching digital platforms to differentiate existing portfolios were the most common strategy on display in Prague. Many preventative therapies are large capital equipment and reimbursement around prevention can be hard to achieve. Given these factors, SmartTRAK believes that early diagnostics offers the most likely route into the pressure ulcer prevention market for wound care companies. (For a more in-depth discussion on the use of dressings for pressure ulcer prevention, look for an upcoming article to be available for SmartTRAK wound care subscribers.)
The two technologies that generated the most significant interest at EPUPA were diagnostic devices: Provizio SEM Scanner* and PU sensor*. Both are already available on the wound diagnostics market, which SmartTRAK estimates to be worth <$40MM WW in 2021. Although the Provizio SEM scanner by Bruin Biometrics* has been featured at conferences worldwide for almost a decade, Arjo*’s acquisition of an equity stake in Bruin nearly two years ago has seen significant funds poured into research on the technology. SmartTRAK spoke with some of the individuals undertaking this research, and there is a genuine belief that the technology could become standard practice in patient assessments.
The second device, PU sensor, is from an eponymous Swedish company that has developed a novel tool for assessing a predisposition to developing pressure ulcers. The device measures microcirculation, a physiological parameter, and uses an AI-based algorithm to provide an instant result. (For a more in-depth discussion of the technology and Company, see SmartTRAK’s interview below with PU Sensor’s CEO Johannes Walfidsson (5:04 min). Click here to download a complete transcript of the interview.
Both tools offer the advantages of operating as standalone devices that should easily integrate into current assessment practices. They also provide the benefit of defining patients as being “wound” related earlier in the care pathway. In an increasingly digital environment with competing electronic health record systems, it may be beneficial for high-risk patients to be included on wound-related platforms at the point that a risk has been established rather than when an open wound has already formed.
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