Bar coding and fiscal reality
I read with great interest your cover story "Scanning for higher profits" (June 16, p. 6). Bar coding absolutely is the way to go for all healthcare facilities.
The greatest value lies in its ability to greatly enhance patient identification and safety. There is no hospital around that would not want to implement these systems today, but for a variety of reasons (mainly cost), this technology is added to a growing list of backlogged capital requests. Basic equipment such as beds, electronic vital sign devices, etc., take precedence over bar coding.
For these reasons, I was taken aback by the statement that hospitals have been slow to implement these systems. The truth of the matter is that they are extremely desirable, and all of us in healthcare administration would love to purchase all of these high-tech systems that would make life easier for everyone, plus improve patient safety. But without a windfall of dollars, the money just isn't there.
Perhaps in the spirit of improving safety in healthcare for all of our citizens, the federal government could help out in funding these systems.
Chief nursing officer
Truman Medical Centers
Kansas City, Mo.
Bridge Medical's role
Your bar-coding cover story (June 16, p. 6) appears to shortchange both Bridge Medical (now owned by AmerisourceBergen Corp.) and those whose mission has been to promote industry adoption of safety technology.
I know the story's focus is on the business of healthcare, not technology or quality improvement. However, it's disappointing to see such short shrift given to safety in exchange for a sexy, profit-oriented headline. Although we live in a capitalist society and so should not have to be ashamed of being in business, the irony is that profits have not exactly been Bridge's strong point over the years. In fact, in view of the "Beyond Blame" documentary, mederrors.com, white papers and other Bridge educational efforts, there are many who believe Bridge is a not-for-profit.
Specifically, your article inaccurately compares prices of McKesson Corp.'s products and Bridge's MedPoint system. Like McKesson, Bridge's MedPoint system has costs that vary depending on hospital size and needs. The products themselves are not comparable. MedPoint offers medication, specimen collection and blood transfusion safeguards.
The cover photo is credited on p. 1 of the same issue as being "courtesy of McKesson Corp." But no credit is given for the large photo on p. 7 that shows a nurse scanning a patient bar-code ID bracelet, even though a proprietary software system is clearly depicted. The photo is the property of Bridge. The photographer is Rick Starkman.
And lastly, your choice of a caption for Terry Kinninger further distorts Bridge's long track record of promoting patient safety before it became the "in" thing to do.
Director of corporate communications
Solana Beach, Calif.
Time needed on drug benefit
In Neil McLaughlin's editorial on a Medicare drug benefit ("Bad medicine," June 23, p. 49), I found it a bit confusing that after emphasizing the complexity of the House and Senate proposals and what he sees as mistakes in the packages that need to be fixed, he complains about the 2006 implementation date in each bill. I don't know how fast you do things in Chicago, but here in Washington brand-new, $400 billion entitlements don't get implemented overnight.
McLaughlin, who sought to give Sen. Edward Kennedy a history lesson, should remember history himself. The Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act was repealed before it could be fully implemented. If a Medicare bill becomes law this year, technical corrections and other changes will almost certainly be necessary and the implementation process itself will be arduous. Two years may not be long enough.
Making sense of IT
Regarding David Burda's June 2 editorial "Knowing when to stop" (p. 22): Although it does take courage to stand in front of these runaway trains, I think the real question is: How did these information technology projects get started in the first place?
The message should be: "Have more sense in committing your information technology resources and you won't have to be so brave!" I understand that sometimes you inherit these messes, but too often they are the fault of inadequate knowledge and experience on the part of the IT leadership, or worse, the result of personal vs. corporate agendas.
Administrative director of strategic initiatives
Information systems services
Edward Hospital and Health Services
Medical staff unified
In Mark Taylor's story, "Docs face off with hospital" (June 23, p. 12), he refers to an "unknown" number of "unnamed" doctors who are "claiming" to represent the medical staff in a suit against Community Memorial Hospital of San Buenaventura, Calif. This characterization-while suiting the hospital's spin on the case-is completely inaccurate.
As I advised him in our interview, the lawsuit is brought in the name of the medical staff. It was authorized by the medical staff executive committee and twice ratified by the entire medical staff in formal meetings with a quorum present.
Also, contrary to the impression in your article, both the American Medical Association and the California Medical Association voted overwhelmingly to support the medical staff in its struggle for self-governance.
Act before problems surface
The June 27 edition of Modern Healthcare's Daily Dose had an item about a no-confidence vote by doctors at Wyoming Medical Center in Casper. In it, Chris Muirhead, chairman of the board, states, "We take (the vote) very seriously" and that "No business survives without listening to their customers." It would seem to me that if the doctors are having a no-confidence vote, the alleged problems with James Gardner, the hospital's chief executive officer, aren't new.
Although I am not familiar with the issues at this hospital, I doubt these physicians are stupid enough to oust someone based on fiction, innuendoes or vendettas. The request by Muirhead for doctors to supply further information is really a slap in the face.
In short, the pattern of many healthcare institution administrators is to wait until a problem has come to a head, until the administration or the staff makes threats. This only leads to bad feelings, loss of credibility and trust on both sides, and distraction from the responsibilities to patients of all those involved.
Medical policy coordinator
Blue Care Network of Michigan
No Picker in survey
I take issue with an assertion made by Laura Benko in her June 23 article on the California patient surveys ("Voluntary problems," p. 6). She states that, "The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has incorporated the Picker approach into a standardized quality reporting initiative."
Tom Scully and others at the CMS have repeatedly insisted that their proposed patient-satisfaction survey was derived from a number of instruments and does not represent any single vendor's survey or approach. The CMS hasn't incorporated the Picker approach or any other approach into its proposed instrument.
Press Ganey Associates
South Bend, Ind.
Out with the humor
I doubt that your well-educated readers find an article on gross charges more useful with its headline of "Gross out" (June 16, p. 10) or one on staffing ratios called "Ratio daze in California" (June 16, p. 30).
There was a time when a headline summarized the story instead of elbowing the reader vigorously to make sure we all appreciate the headline writers' wit.
Director of information services
Orlando (Fla.) Regional Healthcare
Docs different today
Your editorial on "The vanishing workforce" (June 16, p. 20) was absolutely accurate.
I have the unique opportunity of being vice president of human resources and our hospital-owned physician practices. We have a different group of physicians coming out of school. All of them want to practice medicine but stay far away from owning their own shop for family and financial reasons. No wonder.
Vice president of human resources
and physician practices
Elkhart (Ind.) General Hospital
Could you please help me find additional information on the Food and Drug Administration regulation discussed in your June 16 cover story (p. 6)?
Walter & Haverfield
Editor's note: Try this Web site: fda.gov/oc/initiatives/barcode-sadr.
I have a question for your readers: Is anyone utilizing midlevel providers to augment a "hospitalist" program, i.e., having a physician hospitalist as the supervising physician and utilizing the mid-level providers for histories, physicals, and/or off-shift orders?
If you are, please let me know, [email protected]
Senior vice president
Onslow Memorial Hospital
Don't forget Hawaii
Your article "Post-acute pain" (May 5, p. 28) was informative and helpful. I thank you for taking the time and effort to focus on this sometimes underreported but important area of the healthcare continuum.
It appears that our very fine healthcare system here in the most beautiful of the 50 states, Hawaii Health Systems Corp., was not represented in the 2002 survey. Please give us the opportunity to participate in your next survey about post-acute care.
Chief operating officer, Chief financial officer
Hawaii Health Systems Corp.
On page 52 of the June 23 issue you have a letter to the editor from Ross Perot Jr., president and chief executive officer of Perot Systems Corp., but the photo in the article looks like Al Gore.
Was this your intention? Just wondering.
West Anaheim Medical Center
Editor's note: The photo that ran with the letter was that of Perot.
What do you think?
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