Thursday, July 9, 2009

Foot Screenings - Saving Limbs, Lives, and Money

Foot ulcers are a common complication of diabetes, and as a result of their condition, diabetics are 15 times more likely to have an amputation of a lower extremity. The American Diabetes Association estimated that more than one-half of amputations could be avoided, which would result in a costs savings of $24,000 to $40,000 for each prevented amputation.

Encompass Network Partners is a new company that has set out to meet the challenge of diabetic foot screenings in dialysis patients. They have developed a Web-based application that aids clinic staff in performing foot checks and connects clinics with a network of foot-care specialists.

The crux of the service is prevention and treating the condition before there is a major issue down the road. "The biggest thing who we found in interviewing and going in and out of clinics was they wanted help for patients who already had black toe or had lost one toe maybe, and they were wanting limbs salvaged," said Clay Bullard, Encompass president. "But secondarily, we found that they don’t do any type of screening ahead of time. It’s kind of one of those elephants in the room that everybody knows is there but nobody wants to talk about."

Encompass recognized that dialysis centers and nephrologists wanted to help their patients, and that vascular physicians knew the patient load existed, said Bullard. So it set out to create a network that could connect the two sides.

The biggest advantage to diabetic foot screening is that it is standardization of care, said Bullard. He added that Encompass also provides an entire network of physicians who specialize in treatment of peripheral vascular disease. "There is a system of email alerts and really what the clinic can do is seamlessly become empowered at the source of treatment, and by that I mean, if they input the data and hit ‘refer’ they can literally know that they have given the patient a better chance of saving their limbs and having better vascular care."

~Article, Renal Business Today, February 2008

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