Kits for care: How global sourcing helped Northside Hospital boost patient comfort

Atlanta-based Northside Hospital offers an amenity kit to every patient who walks through its doors, filled with products to make their hospital stay as comfortable as possible.

Northside acquires most of the items in the kits through its partnership with ASP Global, an Atlanta-based supplier "writing the book" on global sourcing strategies for hospitals.

Global sourcing entails accessing products from a direct source in the most efficient way possible, according to ASP Global CEO Lorne Tritt. It's not just about cost savings, he says, but about giving clinicians the products they actually want. ASP Global takes specific patient and clinical product requirements and brings this information directly to factories to ensure physicians receive products matching the needs of their patients.

"Today, a lot of product and design decisions are being made further and further away from the patient," says Lorne Tritt. "Northside has done a phenomenal job thinking about their patients."

The hospital's patient amenity kits contain a wide variety of items to improve a patient's stay, including ChapStick — since many medications can lead to dry lips — hand sanitizer, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a Sudoku book for entertainment, according to Lynne Edwards, Northside's director of hospital patient relations.

"The kits are designed in mind with what patients tell us and what their needs are," Ms. Edwards. "For example, patients often tell us sleeping in the hospital is very challenging, so the kits include an eye mask and ear buds."

Mr. Tritt estimates the hospital hands out about 80,000 kits a year.

The hospital also offers more specialized kits, like those for breast cancer patients. These include a pink blanket with the Northside logo, a lavender candle and pink socks. The maternity patient kit — a popular one considering Northside delivers more babies than any other community hospital in the country — contains a breast milk carrier, along with a cooling pack for milk.

Ms. Edwards sees the kits as a way for staff members to connect with patients. When the nurses introduce the kit and explain what's in them, the patients can see how much Northside cares about making them comfortable, says Ms. Edwards.

"It's about communication between caregiver and patient. [The kits show] we're here to help you and that's where patients really do appreciate the thought and care," says Mr. Tritt.

Ms. Edwards, who also lead's Northside's patient experience group, says she receives a lot of positive feedback about the kits.

"We do very well on our patient experience scores," she says. "I have to believe the kits have contributed."

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