Do You Hear Too Many Footsteps?

Today, most hospitals are starting to understand what items and supplies they use by looking at data coming out of their documentation or materials management systems.  Maybe they even go a step further to standardize on certain products (it seems like every hospital has a “Product Standardization Committee” and/or “Value Analysis Committee”). But does your data give you the ability to see all the supplies that are being “borrowed” from one department only to be used in another?

As vascular and other procedural services begin to utilize many more of the same supplies, the cross-department use is growing dramatically – items are being “borrowed” from the OR and used in the Cath Labs; technologists in Interventional Radiology take items to the Hybrid OR that are used for procedures over there; even Electrophysiology is taking $30,000 pacemakers from their labs to the ORs for certain procedures. It’s a vicious circle where everyone is taking from other departments, and no one can trace their “borrowed” inventory.  This leads to potential patient safety issues when items are not documented as used, not re-ordered and are not available for the next procedure.

There is also a massive efficiency issue that many hospitals don’t acknowledge.  At 10-15 minutes per trip (one hospital told us it is 7-10 minutes each way, not including the time to search for the item in another unfamiliar lab), the number of footsteps your team is wasting means tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in wasted time. Further, this transfer time slows procedures down and causes delayed case start times for the rest of the day – and even worse, cancelled cases.  Factoring this all in, the total cost for the supply “borrowing” problem can bleed into 7 figures annually.

The data from systems such as iRISupply is rich, real time and accurate, and specifies when supplies travel from one department to another. It even specifics when items travel from one hospital to another, either within the same health system or outside of the health system. With this data, one hospital customer could identify over 100 trips per month from one department to another to take items they either didn’t keep in stock or ran out of. Immediately, as the team became aware of the issue, the various departments began to analyze the data and devised a plan to eliminate 80% of the issue with minimal effort. Hospital money and time is being saved; surgeon staff are happier as cases are not “put on pause”; and the clinical nurses and staff can stay in the room with the patient and team rather than “roam the halls.”

If your data is just barely telling you what you used, that’s not good enough in today’s world. Hospitals are looking for any opportunity to reduce spend, and bringing a 7-digit problem and solution to your CFO is music to her ears. Detailed, rich, accurate data is the key to finding stories and savings like the “footsteps” problem, and will help uncover the next big money-saving opportunity.