HOW HOSPITALS CAN UNLOCK VALUE AND CURB WASTE THROUGH FOUR HIDDEN SUPPLY CHAIN OPPORTUNITIES
Like finding money in the pocket of an old coat, there are supply chain opportunities hidden just below the surface in many hospitals. Through automation and Lean principles, hospitals can find new value.
Supply chain experts Steve Thompson and Mark Graban unveiled four hidden opportunities for supply chain success during a webinar on June 20. The entire webinar can be accessed at www.modernhealthcare.com/HiddenOpportunities.
1 Supply chain waste comes in many shapes and sizes
Inefficient shipping of products and poor inventory management can lead to shortages and unnecessary costs, as well as a risk to patients from expired products. Redundant processes and unorganized storage can force clinicians to spend too much time looking for supplies, which can delay care. In many cases, providers are also wasting the talent of their most expensive employees on supply chain tasks that they weren’t hired to handle.
2 A strong supply chain can support strong outcomes
When thinking about the connection of supply chain to outcomes, providers should shift from the Triple Aim to the Quadruple Aim: the effort to improve quality of care, cost, outcomes and employee satisfaction. These four factors have a direct impact on the delivery of care, and all four can suffer under a mismanaged supply chain. Hospitals must ensure that they have the right products in the right place at the right time, because shortages and delays can affect the healing process.
3 Inefficient supply chain processes are taking providers away from patients
A majority of hospitals report that they’re still manually counting inventory rather than using automated technology, and the responsibility of doing so can often fall on caregivers. Providers should be spending their time in patient rooms, not storerooms, and inventory management should be supported by technology and Lean processes to avoid mistakes and waste. In addition to employing radio frequency identification (RFID) inventory management solutions for highcost products, hospitals should use Lean inventory methodology like Kanban to make storerooms more efficient. Better-organized stockrooms and improved systems for restocking will help reduce excess movement for caregivers.
4 Providers can reduce waste by improving the way their inventory is managed
Too many providers spend far too much time relabeling products to work with their local inventory management system, and not enough hospitals have accurate visibility into their inventory’s shelf life. Many products are now identified with unique device identifiers (UDI) that make it easy to transfer product information, and more hospitals need to adopt systems that make use of this universal standard. RFID tags can also make it significantly easier to record products at intake or the point of use, saving time and money.
5 A poorly run supply chain can have a negative impact on employee satisfaction
Doctors and nurses are highly-trained medical professionals – they don’t want to spend their precious time managing inventory. If employees are quitting because of poor supply chain processes, that turnover can impact revenue and patient care. It’s important that hospitals listen to caregivers’ feedback, and avoid blaming them for problems that arise from bad processes, not bad people. Hospitals should ensure staff are able to focus on work that is meaningful to them and value-added to the patient.