Three ways to ensure your supply chain data is used to drive meaningful change

Data is a vital asset for improving today’s healthcare supply chain. But not just any data. Healthcare providers need access to information that delivers accurate, insightful comparisons of the multitude of products and manufacturers used in their systems in order to help drive cost savings and reduce variation.

Acquiring such data can be challenging if it’s sitting in disparate systems, or worse, in no system at all. Many supply chain analysts have learned this first-hand and resorted to data mining from materials, billing, clinical, and general ledger systems. But such time-consuming processes promote inefficiency with uncertain results. So what’s the solution?

Real-time inventory and point of use tracking capabilities, coupled with an advanced analytics platform, can centralize all supply data, break it down into tightly focused categories and deliver a wide range of actionable intelligence. This gives you the opportunity to review precise month-to-month/year-to year consumption patterns and to anticipate product expirations. You’re also able to make case-to-case comparisons, differentiate and understand usage among physicians, prepare for seasonal spikes, recognize opportunities for bulk purchasing, and much more.

Here are three ways to ensure supply chain data is used to support positive outcomes in your facility:

Data enhances communication with clinicians and promotes evidence-based decisions

A big part of supply chain success hinges on how well physicians and other clinicians are engaged in cost-saving efforts. Having strong analytical data at your fingertips — information that actually measures outcomes, enlightens stakeholders and influences change — is a critical driver. Most clinicians are willing to change the way they work in order to help reduce spending and improve they just need to see the evidence that supports the change.

According to a McKinsey survey, 84 percent of physicians surveyed said they were completely or very willing to make changes in their own decisions and actions, or to collaborate to change other physicians’ practices, if doing so would affect at least one of ten potential sources of healthcare waste and inefficiency.1

Automated inventory management with advanced analytics can help achieve that end. By continuously tracking and collecting information about clinician preferences and product use, from receipt to usage, supply chain gains a real-time view of objective, consequential data and the scientific edge it needs to facilitate cooperative discussions with physicians.

While comparative cost data can be sensitive, it is some of the most compelling data available for driving change. Providing physicians with product pricing information before, during, and after a procedure has opened their eyes to the way that one product choice can significantly impact total cost of care delivery. Physicians want to know their own cost per case, how their supply choices compare to peers doing same case types, and the potential for safe, effective, and less expensive alternatives.

Data identifies key trends and forecasts seasonal changes

Supply chains have historically depended on averages to drive purchase decisions around high value, physician preference items (PPI). Today we know that averages hide important facts, especially for high cost products with low or sporadic usage patterns. So how do we track products with the greatest financial savings potential? With accurate, dependable data such as maximum daily usage of a specific product size, you can sharpen focus on utilization patterns and provide value analysis and purchasing teams with new knowledge that is clear and convincing.

This data can blunt the clinician concerns that we often hear: ‘I remember when we used four in one day and then we ran out — that’s why I need to have so many on hand.’ While stories like these are true, the best practices around inventory optimization revolve around actual hard data, rather than anecdotal stories. Supply chain data – more than intuition or emotional stocking – results in tangible savings in inventory carrying costs, higher rates of charge capture related to a point of use automation system and less waste and shrinkage due to tighter management of high-value supplies.

Perpetual, automated tracking of med/surg and high value implants and medical devices means usage trends can be identified over time so that purchase decisions can be made on facts, not feelings. Good data also facilitates a better understanding of why certain products may be more preferred than others and helps supply chain get a tighter, more precise handle on quantity so products are ordered only when needed — no more, no less.

In another example, we know intuitively that during flu season healthcare facilities need more respiratory supplies; but how many, which ones, and when they are needed is not so obvious. Automated inventory systems can track location-specific product velocity and deliver the information to users via charts and graphs and alerts so that, over 12 months, seasonal patterns are predicted allowing healthcare facilities to proactively address the needs.

Data improves through-put and room turnover

Implementing an automated inventory management system gets doctors and nurses back to doing what they do best — managing patient care – and allows the supply chain team to do what they do best – managing products. This is one of the main benefits to investing in technology, but the data received as a result can take you one step further.

By tracking supply data in real time against optimized stock levels, automated inventory management technology ensures that physicians can focus on patients, and that no one is collecting product data manually. The data that an automated system collects can deliver insights identifying what products were picked for a procedure and then, ultimately, put back on the shelf. The time it would take for a clinician to alternatively restock the unused products would be eliminated, thereby improving procedure room turnover and case through-put.

It’s every healthcare provider’s goal to operate more efficiently, and to get patients through procedures quickly, safely and comfortably. Having the right data to support outcomes, save money and increase operational efficiency is a key driver toward reaching that goal.

Data matters — make yours count.

Originally published as sponsored content in Healthcare Purchasing News

Reference
1. http://healthcare.mckinsey.com/sites/default/files/MCK_Hosp_MDSurvey.pdf

 

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