The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s new unique device identifier (UDI) system has the potential to improve patient safety and enhance the efficiency of care at hospitals across the country. The UDI system—which provides each medical device with a code corresponding to its make and model—can help identify poorly performing devices, facilitate more efficient recalls, eliminate paperwork to allow doctors and nurses to spend more time with patients, and support better inventory management.
Mercy, a high-performing health system in the Midwest, achieved these benefits as part of a pilot project to integrate UDI into hospitals’ inventory systems and patient health records. The pilot allowed Mercy staff to easily identify devices through bar code scans, track inventory, automatically populate patients’ electronic health records with data on implanted devices, and more accurately track medical billing charges. By integrating UDI into patient health records and billing systems, other hospitals, physicians, health plans and—most importantly—patients can benefit from this new device identification system.