Advanced BioHealing, Inc. (ABH), a leader in commercializing the promise of regenerative medicine and the maker of Dermagraft®, launched during American Diabetes Month the Heal2gether Partnership Program for diabetes patients and their physicians. Focused on patient adherence, Heal2gether aims to increase awareness and proper care of diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs), enhance the effective use of living cell technologies in treating DFUs, and encourage patients to take an active role in their healing process.
“Treatment of diabetic foot ulcers requires steadfast adherence on behalf of the patient,” said Steve Bohannon, RN, Program Director at Providence Wound Care Clinic in Waco, TX and pilot member of the Heal2gether Partnership Program. “A process that encourages patients to maintain their dedication to the treatment program is invaluable in our ability to provide our patients with the best care possible.”
Approximately 15-25% percent of diabetes patients will develop a foot ulcer during their lifetime and between 14-24% of those with a foot ulcer will require amputation. In fact, more than 70,000 lower leg or foot amputations occur among diabetes patients in the U.S. each year. The effectiveness of DFU healing depends on the patient’s understanding of the gravity of the condition and their active participation in the treatment plan designed by a physician.
The Heal2gether Partnership Program works to increase adherence to treatment programs through managed patient support and community outreach. Heal2gether’s patient support program provides diabetes patients with resources, guidance, and encouragement to help them manage their disease and heal their DFU. Patients are paired with a licensed social worker with extensive experience in motivational interviewing to serve as their personal treatment partner. Patients receive weekly consultation calls from their social workers, journals to record their weekly goals, education on DFUs, and a toll-free telephone number to reach their social worker anytime. The social worker helps and encourages the patient through every step of the healing process and then reports back to physicians on the patient’s adherence to the treatment plan.
“Unlike many off-the-shelf patient adherence programs that are based on either scripted conversations or impersonal electronic interactions, the Heal2gether Partnership Program is the first to focus on open, conversational dialogue between the patient and their treatment partner,” said Dean Tozer, Senior Vice President at ABH. “The Program emphasizes relationship-building with the goal of providing support to both patients and physicians in the healing process.”
Heal2gether’s community outreach program takes a grassroots approach to educating the senior and diabetic populations on DFUs, early warning signs, and prevention. Through activities such as blood glucose and foot sensory screenings at senior centers, churches and health fairs; health care provider presentations about DFUs and proper foot care at community luncheons; and articles in local senior and healthcare magazines, Heal2gether is raising visibility of the condition, one community at a time.
“While medical treatments can solve most complications related to diabetes, many people become overwhelmed, frustrated, and discouraged by the daily hassles of diabetes and by the unending, often burdensome self-care demands,” said Dr. Susan Guzman, Psychologist at Behavioral Diabetes Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to tackling the unmet psychological needs of people with diabetes. “By emphasizing education about diabetic foot ulcers and developing the relationship between the social worker and the patient, the Heal2gether Partnership Program addresses both the physical and emotional obstacles to the self-care behaviors that are critical for short-term healing and long-term success living with diabetes.”
ABH is rolling out Heal2gether Partnership Programs at multiple wound care clinics in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, and plans to launch the programs in other cities over the coming months.