Chronic wounds are a hidden epidemic – “It needs to be addressed.”

Photo of person bandaging a wound on their leg

It’s Australia’s most serious health problem that you’ve probably never heard of – the chronic wound epidemic that is sweeping the nation. 

In Australia, there are more than 420,000 people living with a painful and often debilitating chronic wound – a figure on par with the number of Australians with dementia.  

Read part 2 of our wound care series to find out how wound-care organisation, WoundRescue, is using the Visionflex GEIS® General Examination Camera HD to improve health outcomes for wound patients.

Wound Awareness Week 2022 – 15-21 August

During Wound Awareness Week 2022, the country’s peak body for wound prevention and management, Wounds Australia, is seeking to redress this alarming statistic, by raising awareness of the issues surrounding chronic wounds. 

“There is a hidden epidemic, and it needs to be addressed.” says Wounds Australia CEO, Helen Jentz. “Wounds must be made a top health priority.  

“Historically, having a wound has been considered an unfortunate side effect of having another health condition like diabetes; but it’s so important to view wounds as a health issue that needs to be addressed in its own right.” 

Learn more about Wound Awareness Week 2022 or click the banner below.

What is a chronic wound?

A chronic wound is defined as a wound that has failed to heal or to reach anatomic and functional integrity. There are four chronic wound categories – arterial ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers, venous leg ulcers and pressure injuries.

According to Wounds Australia, more than $3 billion of the nation’s aged care and healthcare budgets are spent on chronic wounds every year. Each chronic wound patient spends more than $4,000 on out-of-pocket costs, and with most patients aged over 65, this places unbearable pressure on pensioners and retirees.

In the health sector, says Helen, wound care has fallen between the cracks with no one specialisation taking responsibility for patient care.

This lack of knowledge and capacity means that many patients will have their wounds misdiagnosed and mistreated, resulting in poor health outcomes, increased rates of amputation, and possibly death.

Compounding the issue is the lack of targeted item numbers under the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) and the lack of subsidisation for wound consumables.

Most patients initially seek treatment in the primary setting including through GPs, nurse practitioners, wound clinical nurse consultants (if they are available), podiatrists, and other allied healthcare professionals.

Unfortunately, says Helen, a significant number of these patients end up being referred to hospitals for treatment further exacerbating an already overburdened hospital system. 

Accessing wound care specialists can be particularly problematic for patients living outside metropolitan areas.

Explains Helen: “Rural, remote, and regional communities are the ones that have the greatest difficulty in accessing wound-care experts who have the clinical knowledge and expertise to diagnose wounds and treat them correctly… Telehealth is going to be a really important avenue to access specialist knowledge around wound treatment.” 

Equally as important, says Helen, is “remembering the human story because chronic wounds really, really affect peoples lives. Chronic wounds have an emotional and mental impact. They affect the way people interact with their family, the way they interact socially, and their ability to work”. 

How do we improve wound care and management?

Wounds Australia has developed an 11-point plan to address chronic wounds. The plan is focussed on evidence-based, solution-driven actions including:  

  1. Create a National Wound Services Scheme to subsidise wound products for people with venous leg ulcers or diabetic foot ulcers, people aged 65+, and government concession-card holders. 
  1. Raise awareness of chronic wounds through a national public health campaign. 
  1. Introduce wound-care education for primary health and aged care workforces, particularly in rural and remote regions. 
  1. Map care pathways for chronic wound care. 
  1. Introduce wound care units of competency in tertiary education courses. 
  1. Reimburse home support, home care and residential aged care providers for wound-care education. 
  1. Introduce Medicare funding for the treatment of chronic wounds in primary healthcare. 
Wound Awareness Week 15 -21 August 2022 - The solution is bleeding obvious. Learn more


Photo of GEIS General Examination Camera with light and dermatology hood attachment
Logo of GEIS General Examination Camera HD

A handheld telehealth camera that can capture medical grade quality images and video in full HD 1080p resolution at the touch of a button. This easy-to-use medical imaging device allows its operator to perform a wide range of wound care examinations, whilst its automatic or manual focus captures clear and crisp visuals every time.

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ProEX Desktop

Specifically designed and engineered to enable health practitioners all over the world to confidently carry out detailed medical examinations on wound care patients based in regional, remote, rural and urban areas. 

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Visionflex Telehealth Cabinet

The complete solution for your telehealth equipment requirements. The pre-wired, lockable Telehealth Cabinet keeps all your wound care accessories along with the monitor and ProEX Telehealth Hub in one secure and organised location.

Photo of ProEX Mobile telehealth device
ProEX Mobile logo

The ruggedised, state-of-the-art tablet enables clinical video conferencing directly from the device with all images and data being transmitted in high definition to the dermatology specialist or GP.

Visionflex – clinical telehealth solutions.