We applaud the efforts of the Massachusetts Medical Society to streamline the credentialing process in its state ("Cutting through the paper," March 8, p. 58).
Many states are using state-specific credentialing and/or recredentialing applications. The National Association Medical Staff Services believes that the time is right to make this type of initiative happen on a national level-to bring all stakeholders to the table to find a national solution that will eliminate waste and redundancy in the system of physician credentialing. The membership and leadership of NAMSS have been working on such an initiative for the past several years. Our efforts have culminated in the NAMSS Position Paper on Credentialing Elements, which identifies the critical elements that should be included in all application processes.
We invite others to join us at the national table to find new and better ways to decrease the burden of credentialing while maintaining patient safety.
Chief executive officer
National Association Medical Staff Services
Consider all disparities
I read with interest the story on a new American Hospital Association initiative on racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare ("Assessing the problem," March 29, p. 12). As many have noted before, besides encouraging America's hospitals to reduce cultural barriers based on racial and ethnic differences, we need to eliminate those organizational barriers experienced by people with disabilities.
The largest minority group (growing daily) is people with physical disabilities or those who are likely to acquire such disabilities in the future. Physical disabilities are not just the ones we typically see in the media like stroke, spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury. They also include disabilities that are not so easily seen such as visual, hearing and neurological impairments, and impairments caused by arthritis and the aging process.
If one takes to heart a recent article in the Harvard Business Review-which asked our society to "retire the retirement age"-and if one is committed to recruiting and retaining quality staff regardless of age or other categories that could be considered discriminatory, then dealing with the disability issue would seem to be an essential component of any diversity initiative.
Besides reducing barriers and resolving the healthcare disparities experienced by patients with disabilities, our industry should be the first to make sure that employees with disabilities are given an equal chance to compete for clinical, professional and paraprofessional positions, especially those which seem to always be in short supply. Nurses, therapists, physicians and even hospital administrators with disabilities working side by side with staff of color to treat patients of color and the disabled would go a long way to create an environment which, by virtue of its own actions, speaks louder than words.
President and chief executive officer
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
Making a difference
I read all the excellent responses to your cover story ("A melting pot it's not," Aug. 11, 2003, p. 6) that were posted on your Web site, modernhealthcare.com. I applaud your readers for taking the time and having the courage to voice their opinions on such an important matter-diversity.
It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes only one reader/writer to make a difference in diversity. It is folks like you who will help make the difference in healthcare.
Corporate vice president
Human resources and system diversity
SSM Health Care
Don't rush into old technology
The article, "Raising the bar" (March 1, p. 8) on the adoption of bar-code technology by hospitals, may really be about too little, too late.
Hospitals are finally embracing bar-code technology just when it is about to be replaced by a new technology, radio-frequency identification. RFID involves passive chips implanted or printed on a product, which when queried by a certain radio frequency respond with identifying information about the product.
The technology is capable of product and patient-tracking instantaneously, checking inventory without leaving the scanner console, and so on. The U.S. Department of Defense now requires RFID on all purchased products.
Hospitals might consider waiting for the new (radio) wave.
Ohio Valley Health Services and Education Corp.
Prescription for pricing
I read with interest Todd Sloane's editorial on drug prices ("It's time to look at Rx pricing," March 15, p. 18). I have several other suggestions for solving this problem:
* Start the patent clock on a new drug after Food and Drug Administration approval so the companies have time to recoup their investment before the generics take over.
* Give lawsuit protection to the manufacturer if the drug is approved by the FDA. This would cut the cost of liability insurance. Manufacturing standards would have to be met throughout the life of the drug.
* Get federal help in protecting the patent from places like China that will market the drug worldwide without paying royalties.
* Review the pricing of the drug as part of the FDA approval.
* Have the government buy drugs in bulk quantities at discounts that can be distributed to Medicare beneficiaries who are now included in the new legislation.
* Require drug manufacturers to sell drugs at prices equal to those in other countries. If they are going to make a profit, it can't be in the U.S. alone.
I'm sure it's naive to think these ideas might come to fruition, but they might be worth further consideration.
St. Anthony Hospital