How medical device makers can improve U.S. health care

Up to date equipment is key to productivity in any business and it's clear that the device industry's policies are holding down that productivity here.

If you lived in Norway You'd be fine right now Get sick there You make the doctor wait Randy Newman from WikimediaRandy Newman (right) was joking in his song "A Piece of the Pie," but The Commonwealth Fund says it's closer to truth than it seems.

The Fund did not survey Norway, but it did survey The Netherlands, which mandates private health insurance for all. Along with the U.S. and six other countries.

Only 7% of chronically-ill Dutch patients reported problems with access due to cost in the last two years. In the U.S. that figure was 54%. Problems with coordinating care and lab errors were also higher here than in any other nation surveyed.

As The New York Times editorialized, this is The Wrong Place to Be Chronically Ill.

The survey is being published in the journal Health Affairs, which this month focuses on the medical technology market.

On that journal's blog Chris Fleming wrote a lack of transparency in that market is keeping growth down.

Device makers are even forcing buyers to keep prices secret, maximizing profits in the short term but creating a backlash that now hampers the industry.

Up to date equipment is key to productivity in any business and it's clear that the device industry's policies are holding down that productivity here.

A quick personal anecdote. I had my knee looked at yesterday. The doctor had very up-to-date practice management systems. His imaging gear, however, was old and clunky. As a result I had to wait a while for treatment. (The knee is fine. Just old.)

Would greater transparency in the device market jump-start growth, raise productivity and reduce customer dissatisfaction?

It's worth a shot.