A booklet that briefs consumers on the effect of the Y2K computer problem on the healthcare industry will be made available this week for distribution by providers.
The 24-page publication, endorsed by HHS Deputy Secretary Kevin Thurn and by the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, is part of a private industry preparedness effort uniting leaders in the provider, insurer, pharmaceutical and medical supply sectors.
While reports about lagging healthcare readiness and the potential for malfunctioning machines dominate the news, the healthcare industry has aggressively tackled the problem, said Daniel Nutkis, chairman of the Odin Group, a Nashville-based information technology research firm, which produced the booklet.
"Consumers will benefit from better understanding the work that is being done and learning what steps they could take to be prepared," he said.
For example, patients with an implanted medical device or home-based medical equipment are advised to contact the manufacturer to determine whether a device has a date-related function and can handle dates past 1999.
The booklet covers the problem's reach into hospitals, drug manufacturers and suppliers, emergency services, other healthcare facilities and insurance companies.
The publication says the pharmaceutical industry had a good jump on the problem, and it subtly discourages hoarding.
"There should be no need to order more medications than you normally do," the booklet says, advising refills of prescriptions a week before they run out-which is what patients should be doing anyway, it adds.
Many of the organizations participating in the industry Y2K effort plan to distribute the booklet, with the bulk reaching consumers over the next two months, according to the Odin Group.
The booklet will be available on the Internet at www.healthcare-y2kguide.com or by calling 1-888-353-7807.