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.