Dr. Ian Griffiths, CEO of Wound Innovations joins Health Professional Radio to talk about a special coalition of leading diabetes organizations who have joined together in an effort to end avoidable diabetes-related amputations and to raise awareness on diabetic foot disease.
Dr. Ian Griffiths is the CEO of Wound Management Innovation Cooperative Research Centre and the incoming CEO for the CRC’s legacy entity, Wound Innovations. He was previously the CEO of AorTech Pty Ltd, COO of AorTech Biomaterials plc, CEO of PolyNovo Pty Ltd and CEO of Novoskin Pty. Ian has worked for more than 20 years in commercialising innovative medical devices including wound management products. In addition, Ian has served on a number of public and private company boards.
Dr. Griffiths has an MBA, a PhD from the University of Manchester with his thesis based on instrumentation physics and polymer chemistry. Dr. Griffiths has been a guest speaker at numerous public events, conferences and investment forums and has a distinguished academic publication list. He has an extensive background in business development, licensing & acquisitions, medical technology commercialisation, capital raising and critical stakeholder management.
Tabetha Moreto: Hello everyone. This is Health Professional Radio and I’m your host, Tabetha Moreto. Our guest today is Dr. Ian Griffiths, CEO of Wound Management Innovation Cooperative Research Centre and incoming CEO of Wounds Innovation. Today, we’re going to talk about a special coalition of leading diabetes organizations who have joined together in an effort to end avoidable diabetes-related amputations. Without further ado, welcome to the show, Ian. It’s so nice to have you here.
Dr. Ian Griffiths: Hello. Thanks for having me.
T: So Ian, please tell the audience more about yourself.
I: Well, a little about myself but more about the organizations. I represent Wound CRC or Cooperative Research Centre is a research organization which is primarily federally funded but brings together industry and research partners to achieve outcomes of national significance and that’s what we believe we’ve done here. There’s two items I’d like to talk about. The first, being Wound Innovations which is really the culmination and research translation of 8 years of work in the Wound CRC into a vehicle which has a multidisciplinary group of clinicians that can be applied through Telehealth, direct patient engagement, education, training, credentialing to really bring the standard of wounds knowledge and the treatment of wounds knowledge to a much higher level on a national basis. As the Wound CRC comes to its natural conclusion the end of its funding cycle, that’s where many of the assets have been moved so that they can continue to do good things for the nation beyond the term of the CRC. But really you’ve invited me here to talk about the Diabetic Foot Australia. That was one of the initiatives funded through the wounds CRC as it engaged with its partners. Our aim there was to increase the knowledge of the diabetic foot disease to provide practical solutions that could be implemented through podiatrists and diabetes specialists and also to measure the help, the prevalence of diabetic foot problems and the health economics associated with poor management of those foot problems. And we’ve managed to do all that in a vehicle called Diabetic Foot Australia which we’re now happy as being transferred to the Australian Diabetes Society to continue the good work and also reach into a whole new branch of healthcare professional people who worry about diabetes, endocrinologists, people who focus on metabolic disease as well as the people who work on the feet. Because although many people live with diabetes, it’s often the foot problems that are the things that cause amputations and ultimately lead to morbidity.
T: Yes. That sounds very fascinating. So, can you tell us, Ian, how prevalent is diabetic foot disease in Australia nowadays?
I: Okay. Some basic stats around 4,400 new cases reported each year and they’re the ones that are reported. There are many that go unreported and that translates to around 350 hospitalizations every day due to a foot complication and about 13 amputations. So we reduce this to Canberra, the number of people with foot complication identified at any one time is about the population of Canberra about 400,000 or so. If we could put every person who’s hospitalized due to a foot complication into the hospital that would fill one of the teaching hospitals in Canberra and then the Canberra Raiders, all 13 of them would have the limb removed every day through diabetic foot complications. So it’s really quite a silent epidemic.
T: Yes. It does sound like a silent epidemic indeed. So what can people do in order to prevent this from happening?
I: There are awareness and early intervention and prevention. Many of the things our work is focused on giving only the podiatrists but the diabetologist tools that are easy to use, patient information that’s easy to understand and follow and an awareness of the journey. So we’ve developed a patient passport where it’s a record that follows the patient so any carer that engages in the future understands what’s happened and how to manage that patient better. So very practical tools underpinned by quality research allow us to engage with patients’ carers and healthcare professionals on all levels to bring a more comprehensive understanding to the management of the diabetic foot problem.
T: That’s very interesting. Now, if you don’t mind, can I ask you a personal question?
T: Why are you so passionate about helping people with diabetes?
That’s a brush in every family of diabetes and we all understand the complications that can bring to loved ones I suppose is a little bit of that. But also through my professional engagement, I meet patients and their families. I see people that this affects nearly every day of my life and you can’t help thinking that we’ve got to do better for these people. We have a wonderful healthcare system but this particular indication has fallen through the gap. People don’t understand how to manage and treat well enough. Of course, there are wonderful, skilled clinicians out there but they’re not connected in a meaningful way that would allow this information to be more broadly disseminated and these very practical steps can be taken to ensure that these patients either don’t end up in some of the terrible states I see with one or more limbs amputated or the progression of the disease is much reduced through practical implementation of simple things. So meeting these people, seeing their journey and knowing that it could be better managed or avoided is something that’s been a driving force in this whole journey.
T: Fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing that story with us.
I: My pleasure.
T: Dr. Ian, I would love to chat with you more but we’re running out of time. Before we go, what is your main takeaway message to all of our listeners out there?
I: I would say that if people have the onset of diabetes, their feet are very very important. People who have diabetes as it advances, lose the sensation in the feet. As they lose the sensation in the feet, they can hurt the skin and break the skin. Once the skin is broken, the onset of ulceration in disease is rapid. So black toes aren’t acceptable and if you can’t feel your feet, that’s also a bad sign and you need to seek professional help and guidance with footwear to manage any problems that you have so that you don’t end up with one less leg.
T: That was a fantastic message. Before we go, can you tell us for those who want to get in contact with you, how can they do that?
I: Several ways. The new partnership with Australian Diabetes Society has a portal to the Diabetic Foot Australia group and through Wound Innovations which is the legacy vehicle I talked about earlier. We also will continue to collaborate and work through with the Australian Diabetes Society through DFA. So DFA has its own website. Wound Innovations and Australian Diabetes Society, if you go to any of those you can get information on the Diabetic Foot Australia.
T: That’s wonderful. Thank you so much, Ian for coming on the show. It was fantastic having you.
I: My pleasure. Have a good day.
T: And that was Dr. Ian Griffiths. If you liked this interview, transcripts and archives are available at www.hpr.fm. We’re on all social media platforms. So don’t forget to follow, like and subscribe. Show us some love by subscribing to our HPR YouTube channel. We’re also available for download on SoundCloud and iTunes. I’m Tabetha Moreto and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.