Tech drives cost savings in inventory at 2 health systems: 4 things to know

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Hospitals are using technology to help reduce supply chain costs, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Here are four things to know about hospitals' high-tech efforts.

1. Hospitals are adopting new supply-chain technology, partly because they face growing pressure from insurers to cut costs, and because they are moving away from fee-for-service to value-based care. In addition, mergers have made it easier for multiple hospitals to consolidate supply chain operations, The Wall Street Journal notes.

2. At St. Louis-based BJC HealthCare, the team managing supplies for the health system previously used counting to keep track of medical devices, causing hospitals to often over-order some products, according to the report. However, officials are now investing in radio-frequency identification tags, markers that transmit data. The tags, which are attached on some medical devices, such as catheters, feed into a central database that keeps track of the use of items and when they expire, according to The Wall Street Journal. Supplies are automatically reordered, and hospitals can share supplies.

3. Marcia Howes, chief supply chain executive at BJC, told The Wall Street Journal the new system cut the amount of stock facilities had to keep on hand by 23 percent in tests.

4. St. Louis-based Ascension Health did not go with RFID tags, as BJC did. Instead, Ascension hospitals use scannable barcodes so inventory levels are updated each time a product is taken off the shelf, Michael Gray, head of the system's supply chain operations, told The Wall Street Journal. Like with the RFID tags used by BJC, when inventory dips below a certain point, orders are generated automatically. "Having [an] automated bar-coded system keeps us from having the user error," Mr. Gray added in the report.

 

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