Regarding The ID got lost in the alphabet soup:
The article soft pedals the topic in the headline, The ID got lost in the alphabet soup: The long and the short of why there still is no universal healthcare product identifier. One doesnt have to cast far afield to see that the retail industry, electronics, utilities, transportation and food all have adopted standards, which the health industry has lacked for years.
There are several reasons why this is, in my opinion. Healthcare remains more of a cottage industry, in spite of group purchasing organizations and national associations such as the American Hospital Association and American Osteopathic Association, and the desire of the American public for cost-effective healthcare. Some would assert that manufacturers and distributors of healthcare products intentionally resist the deployment of standards to preserve profit or that healthcare providers arent smart enough or energetic enough to put standards in place.
While I waiver between both opinions from time to time, maybe the truth is in the nature of our industry. The difference between the Wal-Marts of the world and healthcare providers is that Wal-Mart controls their location of stores, their distribution network and their marketing strategy, as do their competitors, on a national basis. Healthcare does not, and I would contend that as the healthcare providers do, so do the manufacturers.
So how do we change this? As you pointed out, better heads than mine have been struggling with the issue of deployment for years, and the answer always seems to be they dont want to do it. I believe that the only way is through the requirement of patient safety issues, mandated by governmental oversight. Healthcare providers have a history of being guided by regulatory bodies as do manufacturers.
The benefits would flow from there, including eliminating wasteful costs borne ultimately by the American public, as our other industries eliminated those years ago.
Howard G. MannSenior director, corporate materials managementSt. Lukes Health SystemKansas City, Mo.
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