Healthcare Reform is not only in the air, but it's been made into law in the United States.
And for some, it's been a better-late-than-never miracle, considering it is supposed to provide approximately 48 million uninsured Americans with new, affordable insurance options and tax cuts for up to 3.5 million to small businesses to help them pay for employee coverage.
There's no denying, healthcare is not only important, but big business. Those in the printing industry can certainly vouch for the fact that sales of medical forms, wristbands and other related products can be a prescription for success.
Roger Davis, general manager of the Long Run Division of the Ft. Scott, Kansas-based Ward/Kraft, said the company got into the medical business when a distributor approached Ward/Kraft with a patented idea to improve the hospital wristband.
"They had an idea and they needed a manufacturer with very specific printing capabilities," Davis explained. "Because we build quite a few of our own presses we had a unique advantage over other manufacturers in the market. Their goal in using WK was to allow us to promote this product line to our distributor base in addition to them selling the product themselves."
And wristbands remain an integral part of Ward/Kraft's business.
Davis remarked that the LaserBand is one of its best-selling products.
"It is popular because of the self-laminating feature," Davis said. "This protects the patient's information. Ward/Kraft is one of only two authorized manufacturers of this product."
Jessica Wenz, product marketing specialist for Dayton, Ohio-based Wilmer, which started selling claims forms years ago when customers began requesting them, said its best product continues to be its laser claims forms. She commented it's popular for two reasons.
"It has been around for so long, users understand the form and it's a necessity when filing claims," Wenz explained.
Success with current products doesn't keep these companies from searching for the next big thing.
"Wilmer is always looking in to new items to broaden our product line," Wenz stated. "There will be some enhancements to current items and we are reviewing the possibility of adding a new product to offset the declining sales in the traditional paper forms."
Ward/Kraft is working on a new construction of a thermal printable product as well as other laser printable products. He did not elaborate.
Both participants have varying ideas on what will be the next big things.
"With the improvement of medical forms and patient identification methods, the next big thing would be a greater focus on eliminating patient identification errors," Davis said. "This will happen on the print side with additional camera verification. This is something that Ward/Kraft already has in place to serve the healthcare industry."
Wenz declared it will be all about the trend of cutting back on paper.
"There is a real push to go paperless and getting patients' medical records electronically," Wenz said. "At the same time, they must ensure that the patients' information remains protected."
Both companies are noticing different trends in the industry.
Prescription labels are becoming a growing product base for Ward/Kraft. In addition, Davis noted that the company is seeing "more thermal transfer products as well as prescription pads with three and four different security features."
Regardless of the success that medical products bring to these companies, the bottom line is coming up with products that combat challenges in the healthcare sector.
For example, Wenz explained that Wilmer's prescription pads exceed Medicaid guidelines.
"We have layered our scripts with security features in the three areas required by Medicaid so that if one should be subdued, the other would not falter, if lost or stolen," Wenz continued. "Our communication line offers a variety of labels to notify physicians of allergies to medications, helping them keep their patients safe."
Ward/Kraft is jumping over healthcare hurdles with its self-laminating wristbands, medical mount sheets, add-a-label form products and poly pockets. Poly pockets are used for several different applications. The first is collection kit for DNA or another type of specimen.
"You can't see the poly as it is clear, but you can see the tape where the form would fold over to seal the pocket. The second form is a chain-of-custody form. This is a multi-part form with a poly pocket as the back ply to store the contents during transit. The face would allow the lab tech to properly notate the contents and accurately label any additional forms or charts."
Unfortunately, no business sector, especially in these ever-trying financial times, is without its problems.
"Like in all businesses, they are watching costs, while trying to protect their patients when they remain in the care of the physician," Wenz said. "Wilmer's products protect against fraud and are of value when protecting a patient's health."
Davis believes the single biggest problem is the accuracy of the patient's information transferring from form to form and the accuracy of all numbers, barcodes and other printed information.
"Ward/Kraft uses camera verification equipment in and through the printing process to ensure that the forms are numbered and bar coded properly," he added. "This process verifies that there are no missing numbers or duplicates. [Both of] these two types of errors can lead to major problems in hospitals [and/or] clinics."
"Dying" is a pretty taboo word when it's spoken within the context of hospitals and medical-related issues. According to Davis, that word is nonexistent when it comes to medical sales and paper industry.
"We have really seen a rise in the healthcare market at Ward/Kraft and have not seen any trends that would suggest that the healthcare market would be dying down.
Wenz added, "Some of the paper products are slowly declining, as more electronic systems come in to play. However, there is still a lot of business to be had out there and we are working with our customers to retain what we currently have and building new relationships."