Earlier this year, ProPublica’s Marshall Allen wrote a commentary in the Washington Post, Want to Cut Health Care Costs? Start with the obscene amount of waste. Waste in healthcare is an issue Mr. Allen knows well, and we at AMDR have followed Mr. Allen’s work documenting how the U.S. disposes of “egregious waste that‘s draining our healthcare system.” The National Academy of Medicine, Allen notes, estimates that the U.S. healthcare system wastes around $765 billion a year. And Allen highlights that the “operating room is a major source of wasted spending.”
What we like about Allen’s work is that he often provides solutions or case studies on ways that healthcare providers have taken steps to reduce waste along with the impact of ProPublica‘s reporting on these efforts. Members of the Association of Medical Device Reprocessors (AMDR) agree that solutions are needed to reduce waste in healthcare. AMDR is committed to helping hospitals and healthcare providers increase quality, reduce costs and improve patient care. AMDR member companies do this, and we think are leaders in the medical technology industry, by aligning with their healthcare provider partners, helping them to extend the value of the medical devices they already own thereby lowering new medical device acquisition costs and further reducing medical waste.
Along the lines of waste, Mr. Allen notes that “wasted spending represents revenue and profit for the medical industry. But our health care spending should not be an entitlement program from the medical industry complex.” Specifically, medical device manufacturers have instilled a throwaway culture and practice within the healthcare system. Many surgical instruments are now labeled for “single-use” and cost hundreds of dollars a piece. Further, some manufacturers have taken broad steps in recent years to further thwart hospitals efforts to reprocess their devices, including inserting electronic chips into devices or updating generator software, making older medical device models un-reprocessable.
We believe these actions are taken to generate medical device manufacturer profits. It is time for policymakers, and healthcare delivery organizations to “stand up to the medical industry and tamp out the waste.” AMDR and its members are committed to supporting hospitals and healthcare providers in their efforts to maximize the value of existing medical device assets to control their supply chain costs and reduce medical waste to take the WASTE out of healthcare.