How Michigan Medicine Tracks Tissue To Meet Joint Commission Standards and Reduce Costs

University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers (U-M) in Ann Arbor, Michigan is one of the nation’s top medical centers, and was recently named the #6 hospital in the United States according to the 2016-17 Best Hospitals Honor Roll rankings by US News and World Report.  As the main medical campus of the Michigan Medicine health system, U-M has an established reputation as a center of cutting-edge research and premier patient care.

U-M has a total of 1,000 patient beds and performs over 54,000 surgeries annually.  This activity level requires the Operating Rooms at U-M to have an efficient and well-organized supply chain in order to keep all of the necessary supplies and implants in stock for all of their procedures.  U-M has turned to iRISecure software and smart cabinets from Mobile Aspects to help improve its tissue management practice across its facilities in Ann Arbor.

Identifying Loopholes in the Existing Process

U-M’s primary concerns with its tissue tracking systems was a lack of standardized oversight. Sandy Rickelmann, the current Supply Chain Analyst for tissue, has seen many different processes and protocols across her 23 years of inventory experience. As Michigan Medicine’s surgeons requested additional, more varied types of tissue increased they became aware of the need for a more regulated approach to tissue management.

Tissue is highly regulated by both The Joint Commission (TJC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  They require strict oversight of all tissue products, including keeping a detailed log of the chain of custody of every piece of tissue that enters the hospital.

Ms. Rickelmann noted that U-M staff are required to document all usage of tissue and related supplies directly into their GE Centricity documentation system. “Given the importance of tracking each piece of tissue to ensure appropriate charges, the decision was made to centralize the storage and to automate the tracking through Mobile Aspects.” explains Ms. Rickelmann.

Identifying a Solution

U-M found the combination of RFID-based workflows and secure, smart storage cabinets to be the ideal fit for their needs.  They knew they needed secure storage cabinets to replace the current honor system for removing tissue products by their staff.  They also knew they needed to have a better way to monitor the entry of data going into their Centricity system in order to capture missing charges.

U-M turned to Mobile Aspects to provide their iRISecure tissue tracking software, tissue storage cabinets and refrigerator locks for their main adult hospital tissue in 2008. Since that time, they have expanded their usage of iRISecure to cover 4 tissue areas across their Adult and Children’s hospitals.

Improving Visibility into Tissue Products

Since starting to use iRISecure, U-M has identified some major improvements in managing their vast tissue inventory of over $6 million in products used annually.

1. Accountability

Since deploying iRISecure in 2008, U-M has seen increased accountability as the number one benefit of implementing the new tissue tracking system.

Having a system to act as a “check and balance” to their Centricity/ MiChart documentation system has increased the level of accuracy in their tissue tracking process.  The use of RFID technology acts as a real-time method to track the whereabouts of tissue. “With iRISecure, we can trace the tagged tissue, when it was stocked, when it was checked in and out of inventory, to whom it was checked out to, and track the person removing tissue from the cabinets.”

2. Regulatory Compliance

With iRISecure, Ms. Rickelmann is able to provide real-time reports to surveyors when they come in to examine her tissue management process.  She had a great experience in her latest TJC survey. “The Joint Commission was impressed with our systems used to track the tissue.  The surveyor was very impressed with iRISecure acting as a check and balance system when used in conjunction with Centricity.”

iRISecure has a built-in Tissue Tracking report that is purpose-built for these surveys by TJC, the FDA or state Departments of Health.  This report discloses the chain of custody for each tissue that has ever come into a facility and also records pertinent information like temperature and packaging details.  With this data at U-M’s fingertips, passing any inspection is greatly simplified.

3. Documentation and Charge Capture

Along with other measures taken, iRISecure helps to ensure that all billing and documentation details within Centricity are accurate.  Ms. Rickelmann believes there is significantly more ease in ensuring a 100% accuracy rate when it comes to tissue billing and documentation with the systems they currently have in place.

4. Analytics and Expiration Alerts

Having built-in intelligence in their iRISecure system gives Ms. Rickelmann actionable data to use to streamline her tissue management operations.  “I appreciate the email reports that tell me which tissue is going to expire within the next 90 days. I am able to relay the information to service leads and surgeons regarding tissue that’s available for immediate use.” With the increase in detailed information around expirations, Ms. Rickelmann has seen her product expirations drop by over 90%.

Final Thoughts

Ms. Rickelmann and the OR staff are enjoying the benefits of an all-electronic documentation system to manage their large and fast-moving inventory of tissue.  They are now experiencing 100% accurate charge capture information in their Centricity system and their expirations have nearly been eliminated.  As Ms. Rickelmann summarized, “iRiSecure has aided in our desire to maintain our standards of excellence through continuous improvement while keeping costs in check.”