Sep 04, 2013
by D.S. EDWARDS CBN Feature Writer
Like any business, and healthcare is a business, evolution takes place as technology improves and market demographics change. The industry of tomorrow will look nothing like it does today. Some say that the industry is going to change due largely to The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. But if the history of medicine has shown us anything, with advancements in technology, patient care improves.
“Advances in computer technology have allowed a sharing of information between healthcare providers, systems and patients, making a safer and more efficient care and treatment environment,” said Barbara Newman, MD, and Medical Director of Outpatient Ob/Gyn Services at St. Charles Redmond. “Records can be accessed on a 24/7 basis, Patient Portals allow an interaction with a physician and the staff even before an appointment. Along the same lines, telemedicine has allowed the extension of medical care into remote and inaccessible areas. Specialists can “visit” a small community or a geographically challenged area, regardless of distance, weather or language barriers,” Newman said.
“In obstetrics, new fetal monitoring technology allows safer labors and more options for the laboring mother and her caregivers. Our smallest and most vulnerable patients are more protected, even before they make an appearance into our world, their needs better able to be addressed after delivery by our Neonatal Intensive Care units. Antenatal diagnosis of genetic disorders through gene sequencing allows reassurance or better preparation, as needed, before delivery. We are able to achieve an unprecedented actual look into the pregnancy through high-resolution ultrasound -- fetal behavior can be studied and understood.”
There are two sides to every story, and two very different schools of thought when it comes to Obamacare. No one knows exactly how this will affect the customers of the healthcare industry (patients) but after several hours of online research, you will find the benefit to the medical device and technology companies is already apparent.
One part of the legislation designed to take the decisions of patient care out of the “financial” realm and into the “what’s best for the patient” realm is The Physicians Payment Sunshine Act which takes effect this summer. This law requires doctors to disclose their financial relationships with pharmaceutical and medical device companies.
Once again this has created two schools of thought. Some doctors argue that this will place an undue burden on them, keeping them wrapped up in the time it will take to produce paper work needed to report each relationship, thus taking valuable time away from the care of patients.
“The drug and medical device industries spend heavily to influence a physician’s choice of products,” said Dr. Daniel Carlat of the Pew Charitable Trust, in a 2012 hearing before the U.S. Senate. “Estimates of the exact amount vary, but pharmaceutical companies alone spend tens of billions of dollars per year on marketing.”
In 2010 a study of the archives of internal medicine, evidence showed that 84 percent of American doctors have some kind of financial relationship with the drug and device industry. Out of that 84 percent, 14 percent of those physicians had been directly paid by at least one company for certain services such as consulting, or enrolling patients in clinical trials.
It may sound from the recent interviews of physicians that the financial benefits to device and med tech companies will be lessened, but this is proving to be incorrect. The law was intended to improve care for patients, but with hospitals and physicians attempting to streamline and improve services with less reimbursement from Medicaid and Medicare, they are searching for new and innovative devices that will hopefully cut down on patient office visits, thus benefitting the companies who manufacture
Two companies who may benefit from medical cost reduction programs are located in Redmond: Medisiss and PCC Schlosser.
Medisiss is addressing the rising cost of healthcare and the need to reduce medical waste. Founded in 1994, Medisiss processes medical devices that have traditionally been used only once. After a series of rigorous cleaning, inspection and sterilization protocols, MediSISS returns a clean, functional and sterile device for 50 percent less than the cost of a new instrument. Adopting and implementing the program can save healthcare facilities thousands of dollars each year without compromising the quality of care they provide.
PCC Schlosser, also located in Redmond, is a subsidiary of PCC Structural, Inc., headquartered in Portland. They manufacture complex titanium castings for use in the aerospace industry, and for the U.S. Military. They also are quickly becoming a leader in the manufacture of medical prosthetics. As the full force of the Affordable Care Act comes to bear on the medical industry, it is now more imperative than ever to have prosthetics that last, and cut down on a patients follow up visits.
Central Oregon is the perfect environment for the emerging entrepreneur, and the young person thinking about a career in the area of high tech medical, especially with the near completion of COCC’s Manufacturing and Applied Technology Center. This industry looks like it will continue to grow at a faster rate than most industries. CNN Money recently released their annual report on projected growth of American manufacturers, and the medical device and tech industry was in the top three.
The bottom line is, we still don’t know what effect Obamacare will have on the Central Oregon economy overall, and it will be some time before everyone actually knows what is written in the 2,000 plus pages, including Congress. One thing is certain; no matter what is thrown at the American entrepreneur, history tells us they are quite good at taking a negatively perceived situation, and turning it into a successful portion of the economy.