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Technology Tackles the Pressure Ulcer

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, May 7, 2013

When healthcare technology is really on point, it provides a quick return on investment, improves quality, and usually disrupts business as usual. This week, I have the perfect candidate.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates 2.5 million people in the US develop pressure ulcers per year, 60,000 of whom die from complications. Despite advances in bed technology and many aspects of wound care, the number of hospitalizations for pressure ulcers reported to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services increased 80 percent between 1993 to 2006, despite an increase of only 15 percent more patients.

One of the causes of HAPU, or hospital-acquired pressure ulcers is too much time spent in one position. A study in the February 2013 issue of the journal Wounds, "Pressure Map Technology for Pressure Ulcer Patients: Can We Handle the Truth?" found that a new pressure-sensing technology, deployed on beds, improved the timeliness of patient turning improved greatly.

The study's authors concluded that the new technology enabled between 56 and 63 percent less potential tissue damage that would otherwise have occurred because patients weren't turned enough to relieve pressure points on their torsos and heels.

Outside of healthcare, sensor technology is catching on in a variety of applications, ranging from automotive tech to computer gaming. Now, sensors are tackling HAPU.

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