Archive for 'April 2016'

    Developing a UDI Strategy That Works

    April 15, 2016 10:01 AM

    There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but here are a few tips to get you started


    Unique Device Identification (UDI) represents a complex, yet necessary evolution in the way we catalog and categorize items for patient care. But how do we go about such a massive undertaking — and why does it matter to you?


    Adopting a common, worldwide system for product identification will simplify communication and offer significant benefits to manufacturers, providers, patients, and regulatory bodies.


    But UDI is no trivial exercise. Most hospitals have 20,000 to 30,000 items in their master lists. And most items are handled in different packaging levels as they move through a facility. The FDA’s introduction of unique production identifiers for individual items adds even more complexity.


    And while some have interpreted the FDA’s effort as a way to introduce rationing to the healthcare environment, implementation of this system must not be about limiting choices for clinicians. The goal should always be getting what the clinician needs — when they need it.


    Focus on the big picture, but start small


    By focusing on reducing waste and enhancing efficiency, we can help build a better UDI system. Here are two strategies to help integrate a UDI system into your facility — and achieve meaningful results:


    1. Concentrate initial implementation efforts on strategic areas. Gaining expertise in important theaters like the OR, for example, will allow you to scale a UDI system throughout your facility in a more efficient and effective way.
    2. Focus on identifying duplicate items within your system. They’re undoubtedly there. And UDI data can bring them to light.


    We’ve partnered with smaller hospital systems to use UDI data to purge multiple copies of the same item. And some facilities have eliminated hundreds of thousands of dollars in excess inventory.


    Hospitals and health systems will want to advance to more sophisticated tactics as they gain familiarity with these new approaches. And we’ll continue to partner with them to develop new best practice models — and openly share them so we can take healthcare Further, Together.


    Corwin Hee is a Master Data Management Program Director in the Information Technology Group at Medtronic who leads several GS1 initiatives.

    Metabolic Patient Care By Committee: A New Paradigm?

    April 15, 2016 10:00 AM

    How the oncology care center approach can help address obesity-related chronic disease


    A common approach to treating cancer is increasingly being used to address obesity and metabolic disorders — with promising results.


    It’s called care by committee. And it can have a significant impact on short and long-term clinical and economic outcomes.


    The timing is right, too. As healthcare trends toward “population health” and “accountable care” models — with a greater emphasis on value over volume — we’re seeing a shift from episodic care delivery to a comprehensive disease-state approach.


    Indeed, doctors Walter J. Pories, M.D., and Konstantinos Spaniolas, M.D., recently co-authored an insightful editorial on this very subject. It was published in the January 2016 issue of The Bariatric Times.


    Care by Committee


    In the cancer center model, the physicians note, multispecialty care teams review cases on an individual patient basis. A multidisciplinary tumor board for a lung cancer diagnosis, for example, could have representation from:


    • Thoracic surgery
    • Interventional pulmonology
    • Radiation and medical oncology
    • Radiology


    A variety of ancillary care providers and care navigators would round out this patient-centric collaboration. And these professionals create a treatment plan through consensus, each providing their perspective of the patient’s condition.


    The Metabolic Care Team


    An obesity medicine specialist and bariatric surgeon could anchor the care team, with core support from:


    • Dietician/nutritionist
    • Behavioral health specialist
    • Exercise physiologist
    • Patient engagement specialists


    And depending on a patient’s comorbidity profile, the treatment-delivery team could also include:


    • Endocrinologist
    • Cardiologist
    • Hepatologist
    • Nephrologist
    • Gastroenterologist
    • OB/GYN


    A variety of patient profiles may be addressed through this model — from those needing purely dietary and behavioral intervention, to those who would benefit from the sustainability and durability of a bariatric surgical procedure.


    A Perfect Fit


    Clinical evidence already suggests the less time that passes between diagnosis and intervention, the greater the impact on a patient’s obesity-related comorbidities. And obesity — along with its related conditions — continues to impact an increasing percentage of the population.


    Regardless of the type of weight-loss intervention, patient engagement and behavioral changes are critical to sustain long-term weight-loss success. And that’s exactly why the care by committee model may, in fact, be a new paradigm in healthcare delivery for obesity and metabolic disorders.


    Eric Jakel, MBA, is director of Provider Solutions in the Minimally Invasive Therapies Group of Medtronic.

    The New GPO Landscape And its Impacts on Healthcare

    April 15, 2016 9:42 AM

    Q: How has the recent acquisition of MedAssets changed the GPO landscape?


    A: The MedAssets merger, combined with the VHA-UHC Alliance known as “Vizient,” is one of many signs that a shakeup of the established model of big purchasing is under way. It could even signal that disruptive business models are the new norm in the GPO space. And while there will undoubtedly be bugs to work out like integrating models, processes, and rebranding, providers could enjoy real benefits from the new GPO world.


    Q: What is the future of the GPO contract?


    A: When I started in this space 27 years ago, there were about two dozen GPOs that we recognized as national GPOs. Today there are five.


    Now, I don’t think we’ll see completely new models emerge in the future — foundation contracting will continue to be important for providers. And GPOs will continue to contract on behalf of their members, who expect to receive fair pricing for quality products and services. I suspect:


    • Contracting models will change and increase
    • Organizations and individuals that weren’t part of the mix three decades ago — including provider administration and clinicians — will command a more prominent seat at the decision making table
    • Geographic coalitions will continue to form or merge, and their size will increase
    • Data will be utilized to make informed contracting decisions


    My hope is much of that will weed out inefficiencies. And device manufacturers will deal with fewer levels of bureaucracy to achieve the same results or better, as standardization is best promoted in the GPO environment.


    Q: What value do GPOs bring to the healthcare industry?


    A: I think the best thing GPOs do is help promote value and transparency for the customer. Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. But GPOs that define, find, and reward value will be best positioned to succeed going forward.


    Big data is critical to defining value. Each of the national GPOs are developing or continuing to build their databases and analytic capabilities. These rich databases gleaned from their diverse membership base can be powerful tools to assess and learn from real-world experiences — and understand value in new ways. This did not exist just a few years ago.


    The data GPOs aggregate will be used to help their members identify best practices, make value-based decisions, understand and improve outcomes, and help achieve the goal of supply chain excellence. It’s a lofty goal. But I believe GPOs can help their members deliver better, more cost effective healthcare if they partner with their members and suppliers on data analytics. I think it’s understood that providing value beyond price is where relationships truly grow and results improve.


    Q: How can GPOs help the industry improve clinical and financial outcomes?


    A: The GPO of the future will have a product contracting entity, but that will be a fraction of their business.


    Again, the transformation we’ve seen thus far has been due, in large part, to the rise of the big data provider. Those in the product space mine big data sets from our end-users — to add value to our “storefront” that is the mega-mall of the GPO. It helps tie outcomes directly to product experiences, which increases our value to customers.


    Pretty soon, a price reduction won’t cut it. Value discipline will.


    And I believe those in the C-suite are correct in their thinking about the evolution of the GPO model in this new environment: When we collaborate with other like-minded organizations to share data, best practices, and solutions to common problems, we can reduce costs and improve outcomes.


    That will make our noble industry better. And all of us, as healthcare consumers (i.e., patients), will be the beneficiaries. I’m sure the successful GPO of the future will continue to play a significant role in this evolution.


    Armin Cline is Vice President of Commercial Contracting with the Minimally Invasive Therapies Group of Medtronic.