3 strategies for supply chain leaders to support patient care

The healthcare supply chain is a broad and diverse entity, but the unifying factor for supply chain administrators, front-line clinicians, and service line leaders alike is a dedication to quality patient care.

When it comes to avoiding adverse events and supporting patients effectively, the supply chain is vital. Here are three strategies to overcome obstacles and help support patient care.

1. Manage expired items

Expired products not only contribute to the $765 billion in annual waste that the healthcare supply chain creates, but they also put your patients at risk.1 Mitigating the usage of expired products requires minimizing human error. In the acute space, staff members are often multitasking and juggling patient care with inventory management, so it’s understandable that mistakes can occur.

To reduce the number of errors, consider automating as much of the inventory management process as you can. Automated product tracking and utilization can alert your staff to expirations or misplaced inventory before patients are adversely affected, which gives your clinicians confidence that the supply chain is seamlessly supporting patient care.

2. Optimize clinical workflows

Ensuring that clinicians have sufficient time to spend with patients while avoiding burnout can be key for employee retention and supporting patient outcomes. Therefore, it’s important that supply chain processes for frontline staff are simple and efficient. In a recent survey, nearly three quarters (74 percent) of physicians, nurses, and other clinicians said the time they spend searching for supplies that should be readily available has the biggest negative impact on their workplace productivity.2 

Therefore, ensure that supplies are stored in an easy-to-find manner and are clearly visible to staff with techniques like open-rack shelving, color coding, and standardized labeling. It’s also helpful to store commonly used supplies together, as one study found that nurses walk nearly an extra mile while on duty obtaining supplies and equipment needed for their tasks.3 As mentioned previously, automated inventory management can free up time spent manually tracking inventory for more time focused on patient care as well.  

3. Maintain accurate charge capture

Accurate charge capture is vital to more than financial success and reimbursement- it’s also a tool for supporting patient safety. When hospital staff can track every product to a specific case and patient, it allows for a comprehensive picture of the products used on that patient. This is an efficient way to track key information in the case of a readmission or product recall. Identifying and recovering such items is a critical safety process for both the patient and for the hospital. 

Despite its significance, 40% of healthcare executives only discuss charge capture once a month or less.4 Spearhead the conversation about charge capture in your facility and emphasize its importance in mitigating human error. For example, rather than manually tracking each product used in a procedure, use automated technology combined with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to track products. In this case, staff can simply wave an item by an RFID-reader to assign it to the patient’s billing record.

To learn more about how Cardinal Health can help you optimize your supply chain, visit our Supply Chain Center.





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