The Health Care Industry
Y2K compliance is mixed in the healthcare industry, which is characterized by extensive decentralization of operations. Some segments, such as pharmaceutical manufacturing, wholesaling and distribution, and large-scale hospitals, have invested the managerial and financial resources to remediate and test for most Y2K problems.
Conversely, rural and inner city hospitals, nursing homes, and physicians’ offices have particularly high Y2K risk exposure due to limited technical/managerial resources and lack of awareness.
The Committee remains concerned about the hundreds of different types of electronic biomedical devices used by all healthcare providers. Most in the medical device industry have identified the Y2K compliance of their products, but end-to-end testing within a facility has not been the norm. The difficulty in testing and limited resources available for replacement of devices at some institutions contributes to the Committee’s concern and raises serious patient safety questions.
Healthcare is the nation's single largest industry, generating $1.5 trillion annually. The U.S. has 6,000 hospitals, 800,000 doctors in 50,000 offices, and 16,000 nursing homes, as well as 2,000 biomedical equipment manufacturers and numerous healthcare insurers in the public (Medicare/Medicaid) and private sectors. All of these entities are highly automated and, thus are highly exposed to Y2K risk.
On a positive note, the Health Care Financing Administration, the federal agency that oversees Medicare payments, has made a nationwide effort to ensure that its health claims payments system is Y2K compliant.
Read the committee report's section on the health care industry's preparations for the year 2000 or read the summary of the last status report issued in March 1999. (Editor's note: the committee's report is in the Portable Document Format (PDF). Click here to obtain an Adobe Acrobat reader to view this file.)