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Unique Device Identifier data should be integrated with Medicare claims

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This HealthAffairs article discusses the need to close “black hole in Medicare data.”

The authors write:

“Every year, the Medicare program pays for nearly 500,000 hip- and knee-replacement surgeries for America’s seniors. At the same time, approximately 25,000 patients undergo procedures to remove and replace a previous artificial joint, sometimes because it failed before the end of its expected useful life. Remarkably, and largely due to inadequacies in the systems that collect data through routine billing, the Medicare program is unable to identify product failures and patient safety problems, or to measure and promote high-value care with medical devices. This problem is serious, but can, and should, be fixed.”

They note:

“Regulations finalized in 2013 establish a Unique Device Identifier (UDI) to provide each product with a code corresponding to its make and model. FDA required all implanted devices to have one of these identifiers by September 2015.”

“With Medicare spending billions of dollars annually on joint replacement procedures alone, the program’s administrators and taxpayers should, at the very least, know which brands of products are being purchased and implanted. Making this information available will help improve the quality of implanted devices, reduce costs to the taxpayer, and improve patient outcomes. Until UDI is integrated into claims, CMS—and Congress—will be unable to effectively administer and oversee healthcare for American seniors who rely on medical devices.”

To read the HealthAffairs article, please hit this link.

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