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Published on May 14, 2014
Our healthcare environment is in a constant state of change towards improving quality outcomes, delivery of care, and net revenue margins. To make matters more difficult, we also have to maneuver around continually changing reimbursement models. Nothing has the power to influence these outcomes more than Supply Chain Management.
Supply chain costs are second only to labor within our hospital settings. The current state of our supply chain department is very inefficient due to archaic technology that isn't set up to communicate with our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) or Electronic Health Record (EHR). This increases the need for human involvement with the added potential for error. Operational precision must always be in place to make sure the hospital has the right supply from the approved hospital item list, at the right time, for the right patient, and that it isn't expired or under a recall notice. Any breakdown in this process could negatively affect patient safety.
Advancements in supply chain Health Information Technology (HIT) are entering our hospitals with tremendous success. For example, standards within barcodes and RFID tags, which can be tied to your hospital ERP and EHR systems, are invaluable. This technology can produce vital, actionable data which can be utilized in a real-time dashboard. In many cases, these dashboards can reside in locations where the front-line staff can make use of them. In addition, this data can also be analyzed by hospital executives and physicians. The improved transparency in reliable data can help in many ways. It can help to produce a standardized item list. It helps to determine if a change that was made led to the desired outcome. If an employee or physician isn't using an approved item or following protocol, the data will show that also.
The progress being achieved in supply chain HIT is exciting. However, analyzing and then utilizing the data which this technology produces, is paramount! This data is the pinnacle to achieving quality patient outcomes, highly reliable care, and continuous improvement on eliminating unnecessary costs.