President Barack Obama officially nominated Dr. Donald Berwick to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The position will play a critical role for healthcare reform. Berwick, not a career bureaucrat like many of his predecessors, holds professorships at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health in pediatrics and healthcare policy and is the co-founder and president of the Cambridge, Mass. based Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
CMS funds the healthcare of more than 100 million, primarily elderly or low-income Americans. Because Berwick’s nomination comes in the midst of controversy-wrought reform of the nation’s healthcare system and the opening stages of the mass retirement of Baby Boomers, he will likely face a tough confirmation in front of Congress.
But if it’s approved, his appointment could bode well for medical device makers, according to MassDevice blogger Ed Berger.
Berwick is “unquestionably the most highly regarded and influential healthcare quality improvement voice in the U.S. today,” according to Berger.
That’s because Berwick’s approach to quality improvement doesn’t depend on politically controversial solutions, Berger said.
“Berwick deals with concrete information about how to measure what goes on in healthcare institutions and how to design and implement changes in care delivery processes in order to improve efficiency, effectiveness and the quality of the experience for both patients and caregivers,” Berger wrote, citing the IHI‘s 2009 annual report.
In that paper, Berwick wrote that, “Eventually, we’ll have to face the music because waste in healthcare is integrally related to soaring and unsustainable costs. … We can’t whistle in the dark about this anymore. That’s not going to work. We have to bring total spending on health care down … way down.”
That concentration on cost control may represent an opportunity for medical device companies. As Berger put it, "Successful pursuit of cost savings through medical error reduction, elimination of duplicative services, adoption of best practices and streamlining delivery systems for efficiency all help the medtech industry in two ways: Directly, by creating new markets and expanded opportunities for technologies that lower costs, enable improved operational efficiency and help reduce medical errors; and indirectly, by relieving the cost pressures that might, in time, lead to restrictions on the potential market or other innovative therapeutic and diagnostic innovations."