by Lauren Dubinsky
, Senior Reporter | April 03, 2018
A survey of over 300 medical professionals in the U.S. found that nearly half have canceled a surgical procedure due to lack of supplies.
“Most hospitals today rely on manual supply chain management processes that require intensive staffing to handle inefficient workflows, and that can impact the quality of patient care,” Lisa Zierten, director of marketing for hospital services at Cardinal Health, told HCB News. “These systems typically lack the data sharing and transparency necessary to provide hospital staff with vital, real-time information.”
The Cardinal Health hospital supply chain survey also found that 27 percent of the respondents knew that an expired product was used on a patient and 23 percent were aware that a patient was harmed due to lack of supplies.
Over half of the frontline clinicians in the OR describe inventory management as "complicated" or a "necessary evil." Sixty-four percent of the respondents admitted to hoarding supplies and stated that wasting and overusing supplies is a significant issue in their hospital.
Zierten explained that health care facilities can improve supply chain management by collaborating with clinicians and eliminating manual processes. The survey revealed that 83 percent of the facilities manually count some of their supply chain and only 15 percent have automated RFID systems.
“Supply chain leaders need to talk to clinicians to understand their needs, and clinicians need to lean on supply chain leaders to understand the possibilities for improvement,” said Zierten. “Automated inventory systems address key challenges identified by our survey respondents, such as simplifying documentation, eliminating manual counting tasks and reducing waste.”
Almost all of the frontline providers surveyed believe there is a need for an inventory management system designed for the specific volume and nature of supplies in the OR. But Zierten noted that all departments can benefit from more efficient supply chain processes.
“Typically, we see a lot of opportunity for reducing waste across the hospital supply chain — whether in suboptimized inventory levels, lost and expired product, or more critically, refocusing nurses and doctors on patient care,” she added. “There is value in automating processes, and creating visibility in general, to get better control of expenses.”