In 2017, I wrote a report on a specific type of advanced wound care dressing. At the time, I had experience within market intelligence and the industry side across multiple therapeutic areas, which allowed me to develop a general understanding of the medical device industry. I was also able to determine trends and specific insights based on a myriad of sources available, so when I was assigned hydrocolloids I used my expertise to determine how feasible the product was when assessed against the competition. Hydrocolloids are occlusive, waterproof dressings that are generally indicated for superficial wounds with low amounts of drainage. These fancy bandages create a matrix over the wound, acting as a scab, allowing the body to retain healing fluids and protecting the wound.

As I read articles in peer-reviewed journals and spoke to key opinion leaders, I instinctively started to turn against hydrocolloids. First, the average selling price was way too high; why would I pay such high prices when comparable products produced similar results? As a healthcare analyst, there is consistent talk about the improvement in technology, about how the world is headed for a brighter future and newer tech will help us heal faster, better, and live longer.

As you read articles in peer-reviewed journals, expert insights, and speak to in-field experts and key opinion leaders, every single person will try to convince you why their product is better, cheaper, and more technologically advanced than the predecessor and competition. Thus, I took everyone’s opinion with a grain of salt; surely all these medical professionals were hyping their own brand and products.

As I started searching for the cracks, they began to appear. Hydrocolloids are not good with exudate, which is any liquid that leaks from your wound while it’s healing. Also, the gel matrix these bandages formed was not clear, so how would you be able to tell if the wound was healing? I wrote a whole section on the efficacy of the antimicrobials used within the bandages, going as far as questioning the standardisation of the release of antimicrobials. To sum it up, I was not a happy analyst with what I saw as an overpriced gimmick of a product.

Finding out about the hydrocolloid dressing benefits from personal experience

In 2018, I fell and had a superficial wound right below my elbow on my forearm. It was one of those burning wounds: I had fallen playing basketball on a cottage trip and my friend took out the emergency kit with gauze and tape and wrapped me up. I couldn’t move my arm as the gauze became rigid and stuck to my wound. I was not a happy camper that night.

Monday morning rolled around and as I walked into work I was leaking pus, and my manager immediately told me to get a very specific type of bandage: you guessed it, hydrocolloids. I was not impressed; I told her I had written a report on those bandages last year and I was not about to be the victim of corporate marketing and shell out copious amounts of cash for something that my gauze was perfectly capable of handling.

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After losing the battle, I went to the nearest pharmacy and paid $12 CAD for three borderless square bandages about the size of my palm. I couldn’t wait to show my manager and colleagues how much of failure these bandages were and that I was right. After ripping my gauze off, I put on the hydrocolloid, and instantly my mobility was back.

Within a few minutes, a gel layer formed where my wound was and I got pain relief that I hadn’t felt all weekend. Two days later I was playing basketball yet again, and there was some leaking but not to the extent I had previously made a fuss about in my 2017 report. After about seven days, I took the bandage off and there was minimal scarring, and my skin was slightly pink.

The lesson of the story is that I was wrong. I didn’t realise how well the product worked until I used it myself. It’s not that I can go out and use each one of the products I forecast. But it was an important lesson nonetheless, to lessen the effect of my bias in my analytical abilities. Also, if you have a scrape or a cut, try some hydrocolloids. They’re worth the price.