Stan­dard re­sponse

Modern Healthcare - - Opinions Letters -

Upon re­view of your 20th an­nual Mod­ern Health­care/Mod­ern Physi­cian Sur­vey of Ex­ec­u­tive Opin­ions on Key In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Is­sues, I was dis­ap­pointed to see that med­i­cal/sur­gi­cal prod­uct data stan­dard­iza­tion was not among your “hot but­ton” pri­or­i­ties.

Re­called peanut but­ter con­tam­i­nated with sal­mo­nella and tainted dog food can be quickly and ef­fi­ciently re­moved from store shelves, but the health­care in­dus­try can­not re­li­ably iden­tify po­ten­tially lifethreat­en­ing re­called or de­fec­tive med­i­cal de­vices or prod­ucts. Pa­tients to­day face a sig­nif­i­cant risk that a re­called med­i­cal de­vice or prod­uct could be used in their treat­ment be­cause of the in­abil­ity of health­care pro­fes­sion­als to rapidly iden­tify and lo­cate it in the hospi­tal.

Us­ing a com­mon set of stan­dard­ized, con­sis­tent stan­dards to elec­tron­i­cally de­scribe prod­uct data in health­care will al­low for de­fin­i­tive iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of med­i­cal prod­ucts and de­vices, tracking them through the sys­tem from man­u­fac­ture to use, through the elec­tronic health record and even billing.

Hav­ing a syn­chro­nized prod­uct data­base ac­ces­si­ble by every­one in health­care—hos­pi­tals, sup­pli­ers, dis­trib­u­tors, in­for­ma­tion sys­tems, group pur­chas­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions and the gov­ern­ment—will en­able rapid com­mu­ni­ca­tion about any po­ten­tial is­sues, cre­ate greater lev­els of ef­fi­ciency and im­prove qual­ity.

And Congress agrees. It has been press­ing the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion to put in place a manda­tory, na­tional uniquede­vice-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem, or UDI, and the House-passed health re­form bill re­quires them to is­sue reg­u­la­tions to im­ple­ment a UDI sys­tem no later than six months af­ter health­care re­form en­act­ment.

There is cur­rently dis­ar­ray around the data in our sup­ply chain that is com­pro­mis­ing both sup­ply-chain ef­fi­cien­cies and, most im­por­tantly, pa­tient safety. I would cer­tainly think that some­thing as press­ing as avoid­ing harm and re­duc­ing costs qual­i­fies as a “hot but­ton” is­sue.

Joe Pleas­ant Chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer

Premier Char­lotte, N.C.

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