Next year marks the 40th anniversary of Healthcare Purchasing News. Technically, HPN reaches the four-decade milestone in April as the bimonthly Purchasing Administration sported a March/April 1977 cover date.
Each successive decade since that auspicious time offered up a wealth of healthcare industry milestones that impacted its growing readership base, spanning supply chain operations, sterile processing, surgical services and infection prevention.
Over the course of 2017, HPN will reminisce about healthcare industry milestones that directly impacted our four key readership segments.
Until then, here are 10 milestones HPN readers have endured during the last decade.
- The last decade began with the stock market crash of 2008 and the ensuing “Great Recession” that not only impacted pricing and supply flow but made passage and enactment of the Accountable Care Act within two years more palatable and accepting — even as it served as a prelude to America’s ultimate conversion to a single-payer system, which has yet to reveal itself.
- President George Bush may have tossed out his moonshot policy item of universal electronic health record availability, access, adoption and implementation, but it didn’t seem to go into overdrive until President Barack Obama’s terms and as a companion to ACA. Unfortunately, adoption and implementation has been outpaced by debates, discussions, doubts and pushbacks about the convenience and reliability of the technology as well as the validity of claimed benefits.
- As the healthcare industry became more dedicated to and reliant on automation, computers and the internet as well as wireless communication and operations to make processes more efficient, the development also opened the floodgates to hackers as security breaches leapt to all-time highs with millions of patient records exposed.
- On the bright side, the cause for adoption and implementation of supply data standards for medical/surgical devices and other healthcare products enjoyed a boost of awareness and need recognition with the entrance of GS1 into the mix. Of course, the awareness and excitement far outpaced adoption and implementation for the same reasons cited two paragraphs earlier for EHRs.
- Futuristic, science-fiction-teeming technology debuted — not just the iPhone and iPad, but also speech-to-speech and speech-to-text translation software, Google Glass (short-lived), smart watches and “wearable” sensors that showed promise for monitoring vital signs as well as managing inventory. Even real-time location systems using radiofrequency identification, infrared, ultraviolet and ultrasound, among other “modalities,” experienced a surge in interest to which adoption and implementation continues to chase and play catch-up. But workable applications in healthcare operations continue in development and far from widespread use, along with 3-D scanning and printing of products, organs and tissue for a variety of legal reasons, and augmented and virtual reality capabilities.
- Online “portals,” remote monitoring devices, self-service kiosks and telemedicine capabilities experienced a surge in interest and applications as the ACA payer aftershocks forced patient engagement in the care they receive, virtually eliminating the convenience of paying someone else — or having them pay — to make decisions.
- The medical concept of “never events” saw an unprecedented definition expansion to 29 events grouped into six categories: surgical, product or device, patient protection, care management, environmental, radiologic and criminal. Yet now they also were conjoined to government/public and private reimbursement. “Accountability” quickly grew teeth under “accountable care.”
- Implants and prosthetic limbs with motorized components or linked to neurological cues brought patients closer to “The Six Million Dollar Man” than your living room analog television set could in the 1970s.
- Diagnostic imaging capabilities grew by going smaller and faster — from molecular capabilities to holographic and motion-capture 3-D/4-D photographic slices to the measurement of tissue elasticity as a disease marker. We may be a long way off from the magic pill or silver bullet but it seems like that distance is getting shorter.
- Finally, the last decade saw the largest consolidation wave in the group purchasing industry since the mid-to-late 1990s under President Bill Clinton’s healthcare reform initiative.
Next month, we’ll highlight some predictions as HPN progresses toward its 50th year.