Tip: Time back through supply chain workflow optimization

There are supply chain opportunities for hospitals and health systems to streamline inefficient workflows, including the removal of excessive labor spent on unnecessary and redundant tasks. To capitalize on this upside, consider automating time-consuming supply chain tasks to empower hospital staff—both supply chain and clinical—to work more efficiently so that they can dedicate more time to patient care activities.

Think about the clinical pathways, workflows and order sets involved in performing orthopedic trauma cases:

  • From the time a patient’s operation is scheduled, throughout the perioperative experience to the time the payment is processed, more than a dozen manual steps – such as document generation for invoicing, logging usage on paper records, and verifying contract pricing – must occur, according to GHX.1
  • A nurse may have to enter all this data by hand for more than 20 implants. And, more often than not, that nurse re-documents the same information in another location, like an implant log book or a separate charge sheet.
  • Without automation, clinicians manually enter all of the implant information—such as description, size, serial, and expiration date—into the clinical record for every implant used during a case, as well.

In situations like this example, hospitals can end up paying for 20 percent to 50 percent in excess labor hours for medical and nursing staff to complete the myriad of complex and manual processes involved.2 Here is the business case for eliminating manual, redundant and human error-prone processes where the supply chain impacts clinical workflows to ultimately help get clinicians and nurses back to patients.

One solution could be implementation of an automated system enabled by radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. Findings in the AORN Journal revealed that, in one instance, 58 percent of perioperative nurses report that barcodes or RFID tags improve workflow efficiency.3 In the orthopedic implant example, a nurse can simply wave the tagged product over an RFID reader, and detailed product information about the implant will automatically feed into the hospital’s EMR, billing and materials management systems.

In the end, I’ve observed that happy caregivers equal happy patients. And when caregivers have sufficient time to care for patients, rather than manually document product utilization, employee satisfaction increases which, in turn, supports patient satisfaction.

1GHX. “Driving Inefficiencies and Costs Out of the Implant Case-to-Cash Process.” 2015
2GHX. “Eliminating Supply Chain Waste: OEM and Hospital Collaboration.” 2013
3 AORN 102(3), 228. “Infographic: Highlights from the AORN Technology in the OR Study.” 2015

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