By Catherine Milne, APRN, MSN, ANP/ACNS-BC, CWOCN-AP and Jayesh Shah, MD, UHM(ABPM), CWSP, FAPWCA, FCCWS, FUHM, FACP, FACHM

We would like to thank all of the attendees of WoundCon Fall for their participation and willingness to learn and grow in wound care. By participating in WoundCon, you supported a global movement to raise awareness and elevate the standard of care for our patients with wounds.

The ability to learn and connect virtually on a global scale is an integral part of growing this movement. Never before have we been able to expand the dialogue on the issues and challenges that we face as wound care clinicians and reach so many on the frontlines than through WoundCon.

WoundCon Fall marks the end of our 2020 WoundCon conference series, which has tackled so many important and timely issues.

Originally, when we started planning our first WoundCon event for the spring of 2020, it was almost a year before we had an indication of a pandemic on the horizon, and we were planning only a single event. As health care professionals, we have faced many unprecedented challenges this year given the COVID-19 pandemic, on top of the already existing issues we faced day to day in treating our patients, including obesity, diabetes, vascular disease, aging, socioeconomic impacts—the list goes on.

The success of our first conference and our global audience’s enthusiastic feedback crystalized for us that WoundCon is the way of the future. Since the beginning of this year, we have hosted not one, but three global virtual conferences and have educated over 13,000 health care professionals from nearly 120 countries. Multiply that by the number of patients seen by those providers who have learned at WoundCon and we truly find ourselves in the midst of a movement—a worldwide movement—of making a real difference in patient care. We anticipate these numbers will grow in the months and years ahead.

WoundCon Fall opened with an address by Dr. Caroline Fife on chronic wound care as a silent public health crisis. Silent public health crises are defined as issues that are hard to message to the media and the public and that lack an appealing mascot. We are here today to help lend a voice to this crisis.

We all know the stats: Over 6 million people in the United States alone are impacted by a chronic wound each year. Put that on a global scale and pair that with a pandemic, which has created issues in accessing patients to deliver consistent, hands-on wound care in this time of COVID-19. Here we see the juxtaposition of a crisis and a pandemic. So where do we go from here?

With WoundCon, it has been our aim to arm you with the latest in evidence-based practice to help elevate the standard of care for your wound patients, whether it’s a routine surgical incision or a case warranting a multipronged, forensic approach to getting to the source of chronicity in a recalcitrant wound. We also explored ways to overcome some of the obstacles inherent in our current crisis and pandemic states.

At WoundCon Fall and throughout this year’s conferences, we hope that you have learned some new strategies that you can put into immediate practice, hence our theme of learn today, apply tomorrow.

Dr. Fife called our attention to and defined our wound care crisis. We learned at WoundCon Fall how we can become better detectives for our patients by looking through a holistic lens in our assessments.

We also learned that we can have an impact in setting our patients up for success and mitigating complications in the healing process by taking a multidisciplinary approach and bonding the health care team with the patient’s goals and capacity. Our registered dietitians, physical therapists, vascular team experts, occupational therapists, and skin champions are called in to address intrinsic and extrinsic factors in our patients and to work collaboratively with patients and family caregivers.

Working together to optimize care has been a recurring theme for 2020. In WoundCon Spring, we learned about what Project ECHO is doing in Ontario and beyond with Dr. Gary Sibbald and Dr. Sanjeev Arora to create virtual collaboration where clinicians can learn from each other and can consult and connect patients with the care they need. At WoundCon Summer, Dr. David Armstrong talked to us about how tenacity, technology, and teamwork are all integral to the preservation of life and limbs in our most vulnerable patients. Today, we heard from a number of our speakers about how critical teamwork is to treatment success, from delivery of negative pressure wound therapy, from Dr. Desvigne’s team at Abrazo Arrowhead Hospital, to how we can work together globally to prevent wounds before they begin, with Dr. Ayello and Gulnaz Tariq in their keynote on pressure injury prevention. This theme of collaboration was woven throughout the conference sessions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also stimulated discussions on the need to take care of ourselves in the frontline of care: distancing, skin care, and preventive techniques in wearing our personal protective equipment to prevent device-related pressure injuries. Although the focus remains primarily on caring for our patients, COVID-19 has also brought us as clinicians into the picture of care, another recurring theme for 2020 as well as for WoundCon. Dr. Amit Gefen and Dr. Karen Ousey helped paint this picture vividly in their keynote session in WoundCon Summer. At WoundCon Fall, we heard about device-related pressure injury prevention and management strategies in a number of talks by our session and exhibitor speakers.

Although we have made gains in knowledge and practice, we have also experienced significant loss. Here is a link to a tribute to honor our health care superheroes, those frontline workers who lost their lives to COVID-19 in the service of their patients. We encourage you to take a few moments to view this video.

WoundCon came just in time for 2020. We now have a space to easily access learning and to network and share ideas, all while having the opportunity to earn valuable free medical education credit. And we get to convene and learn not just once a year, but three times each year, thereby allowing us to keep up to date on the latest trends and issues in wound care

We are all here for the same reason: to learn so that we can become teachers and implementers in raising the standard of care as we work to become more effective healers and to be better equipped to stop wounds before they start. Your time investment at each WoundCon conference is an investment in the outcomes of your patients.

Next year, WoundCon will be even bigger and better than before. We’ll be taking on all new topics as we continue to explore our themes of teamwork and advancing wound care practices, with the aim of providing you with clear and actionable steps that you can immediately put into practice.

We have a number of exciting sessions planned for WoundCon Spring 2021 with an exceptional line-up of speakers for you from around the world. We’ll be taking on advanced technologies in wound care, including 3-dimensional printing and point-of-care diagnostics, and antibiotic stewardship, as well as more on atypical wounds and differential diagnoses, psychology, and wound healing.

We are already building out new resources and activities for you, including expansions to the poster hall and interactive workshops with continuing medical education.

If you would like to be informed when registration opens for WoundCon Spring 2021, please click here to receive email updates.

On behalf the rest of the WoundCon team, we wish you the best and look forward to seeing you in 2021.