Transparency when it comes to doctors and hospitals tracking the devices that go into patients is necessary to improve quality and reduce costs, according to Harold Paz, executive vice president and chief medical officer at Aetna.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's move requiring that device manufacturers embed unique device identifiers in devices was a good first step, Paz writes in a post at Aetna's website, but more needs to be done.
Paz says the next step that the industry must take is incorporating the UDI into healthcare systems; one way that can be done, he says, is through medical claims. However, that practice has come under fire recently from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
CMS has been lobbying against the FDA's plan to use UDIs on claim forms because it poses big technical hurdles and costs too much, according to former administrator Marilyn Tavenner. In a letter to two senators last month, Tavenner said putting the UDI into electronic health records or device registries kept by companies should be sufficient to promote safety.
But Aetna, Paz writes, is joining with others, including Pew Charitable Trusts, to push for the inclusion in claims.
Pew and others have also urged the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to include provisions in the next stage of the Meaningful Use program that encourage providers to document UDIs in EHRs.
Paz adds that while adding UDIs to claims is another task for hospitals to undertake, health systems are advocating for a systematic approach to get the job done.
"Transparency is achievable," he writes. "With UDI information readily available through claim systems, our health care system could track the successes, problems and complications associated with specific implanted devices."
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