Skin Substitutes, what you need to know
Skin substitutes are an important tool in wound care management. They are designed to replace damaged or missing skin and promote healing in difficult-to-treat wounds. There are both high-cost and low-cost skin substitutes available on the market, each with their own unique benefits and drawbacks. Recent changes by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have had an impact on the use of skin substitutes in wound care.
High-cost skin substitutes are typically derived from human or animal tissues and are designed to closely mimic the structure and function of natural skin. They are often used in complex wounds that are slow to heal or have poor blood flow. While high-cost skin substitutes can be effective in promoting wound healing, they are also expensive and may not be covered by insurance.
Low-cost skin substitutes, on the other hand, are often made from synthetic materials and are more affordable than high-cost options. They may not have the same level of complexity as high-cost skin substitutes, but they can still be effective in promoting wound healing. Low-cost skin substitutes are often used in less complex wounds or in cases where insurance coverage is an issue.
Recent changes by CMS have had an impact on the use of skin substitutes in wound care. In 2021, CMS changed the way it reimburses providers for skin substitutes. The new payment system, known as the Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS), sets a fixed payment rate for each skin substitute. This has caused some controversy in the wound care community, as some providers argue that the fixed payment rate may not cover the actual cost of high-cost skin substitutes.
The changes by CMS have also led to increased scrutiny of the use of skin substitutes in wound care. CMS now requires providers to document the medical necessity of using a skin substitute and to use the lowest-cost option that is appropriate for the wound. This has led some providers to reevaluate their use of skin substitutes and to consider alternative treatment options.
Despite the changes by CMS, skin substitutes remain an important tool in wound care management. Providers must carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks of high-cost and low-cost options and make decisions based on the individual needs of each patient. With proper use and documentation, skin substitutes can be an effective tool in promoting wound healing and improving patient outcomes.