In addition to efforts that seek to reduce prices, hospital supply chain executives increasingly are addressing product utilization and standardization, as well as whether less expensive supplies are, in fact, clinically better and contribute to a reduction in overall costs.
AHRMM recently launched a new initiative that aims to boost attention to the intersection of cost, quality and outcomes, which was a common thread for many of the conference's speakers.
During one session, Brian Bravo, director of corporate resources and materials management at Broward Health, a four-hospital system based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said “real” data can help sway physicians to support the purchase of new or different products.
“We need to be more outcomes-driven,” said Bravo, whose system last year spent $196 million on medical supplies.
While some hospital executives say that the relationship between supply chain leaders and physicians has improved, many of those relationships remain tense, especially as more physicians have become employed by hospitals and health systems.
During another session, executives at UPMC, an 11-hospital system based in Pittsburgh, talked about how the system analyzed data for some of its most expensive service lines.
The UPMC team looked at data showing varying costs of total hip and knee replacement procedures at its facilities. Because the costs of the implants were the same at each UPMC hospital, the data indicated that many of the physicians who conduct fewer procedures had the highest costs and their patients had longer hospital stays. The data also found that physicians used blood transfusions in different ways, which had a significant impact on the total cost of the procedure.
The data analysis highlighted some of the challenges that supply chain professionals face when comparing procedure costs to Medicare provider charge data compiled and released earlier this year by the CMS, said David Hargraves, vice president of clinical supply chain for UPMC.
“There's no easy ability to tie charge (data) to actual cost,” he said.
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