A Smart Supply Chain Supports Value-Based Care

Value-based care pressures are pushing many healthcare supply chain leaders to launch a new approach to operations—one that prioritizes risk management and cost control at scale without sacrificing care quality or outcomes.

But at the same time, clinicians are concerned about what a shift to value-based care will mean for how they practice medicine. The answer to balancing these two concerns lies in refreshing the healthcare supply chain to align with performance-based contracts and initiatives.

If you haven't tapped into your supply chain as a foundation of your value-based care efforts, you could miss out on key opportunities to employ cost-effective solutions that enhance efficiency and improve the outcomes that determine value-based care success. Here's a look at some foundational steps you can consider as you expand value-based care at your organization.

Cover the basics with cost control and improvements

Supply chain improvements hold significant potential to enable value-based care, largely through supply chain monitoring and data standardization. Keep in mind that it is possible to enable cost control while maintaining and even improving care quality. This happens through clarifying the contribution of your supply chain. At the procedure level, for example, improvements around procurement and recuperation can enable clinical workflows, getting patients home in fewer days and reducing costs even as reimbursement stays the same.

A supply chain that's aligned with value-based care provides increased visibility into utilization, enhancements in efficiency in freight and shipping, and improved product standardization. For example, standardization procedure packs enhance both financial and clinical performance.

By establishing visibility into purchasing trends across the enterprise, organizations can achieve significant savings. Real-time supply monitoring powers better use of resources and improved costs while demonstrating positive ROI—all of which flows back into cost reductions without compromising quality of care.

Create a “gateway" through outcomes-based contracting

Success in your value-based contracts requires an end-to-end understanding of the patient journey—through individual episodes of care and into their long-term health results.

But achieving this type of success requires sophisticated assessments of total costs, examining both episode-of-care and lifetime costs. If you're able to capture these categories of data, you can more accurately reflect the relationship between supply chain decisions and outcomes such as readmissions or revisions. For example, if your surgeons can supply you with data around the cost and use of anesthesia masks and intubating stylets, you can make improved contract decisions that continue to support and even improve outcomes.

The key to outcomes-based contracting is getting ahead of barriers. A recent review of challenges in implementing outcomes-based contracts identified data as a key category that many organizations struggle with. It found that the reliability and validity of outcomes-based contracting data are jeopardized by the fact that it's often managed on a per-patient basis, tracking individual trajectories instead of informing evidence-based reimbursement decisions. It also stressed the challenges that decentralized healthcare systems face in sharing patient information between systems when systems often have individual data infrastructure.

Break down silos by working with clinicians

Your clinicians are possibly your most valuable resource in achieving value-based care success. They have a profound understanding of how supplies and clinical technologies relate to patient care. This means that supply chain decisions shouldn't be purely “top-down"—or you risk leaving your clinicians feeling as if they have no say in how they practice and depriving your decision makers of clinical insights that can drive improved performance and outcomes.

If you formally incorporate your clinicians into supply chain value creation processes, you allow them to take ownership in sourcing and support you with critical insights into product selection. As you look for ways to break down supply chain silos and foster more clinician input, keep the clinician experience in mind. Many clinicians feel overwhelmed by supply chain-related tasks and view them as a source of stress. We have found that clinicians report spending over twice as much time as they'd like on supply chain work and a full 75% said that looking for supplies that should be easy to find hurts productivity.

If you face a similar dynamic in your organization, know that this might be an opportunity to leverage clinician insights to help clinicians see the supply chain as a critical tool in addressing problems with the stresses of manual counting, uncertain outcomes, and even canceled cases because of missing supplies.

Collaborate with allies who understand VBC

One of the simplest steps you can take in building a smarter supply chain is collaborating with suppliers to share risk.

Value-based care means that health systems will take on more capitated risk in managing patients, so the importance of controlling costs and improving outcomes is critical. In this situation, a supplier who has deep experience in improving outcomes through advanced supply chain management is an invaluable ally. This type of expert can help you analyze data sets across your patient populations and identify opportunities for care improvement that you might have missed internally. They can help you improve data ingestion, inventory management, and demand sensing to support a refreshed and productive supply chain strategy that keeps up and gets ahead of your value-based care ASC goals.

Today's healthcare supply chain leaders are sitting on a wealth of opportunities to reimagine their supply chain management—shifting it from an impediment to value-based care to an indispensable asset. To learn how you can take your next steps toward a bright future in supply chain management, start here.

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