Modern Healthcare - - HOSPITAL SYSTEMS -

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.mod­ern­health­­denOp­por­tu­ni­ties.

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.

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