Given the critical role that supply chain plays in hospital operations, it is essential to understand how hospital stakeholders gauge its importance and how it impacts them on a daily basis.
Recently, Cardinal Health engaged with SERMO to conduct an in-depth survey of more than 400 hospital stakeholders. Nurses, physicians, service line leaders, and supply chain administrators shared their first-hand experiences, identifying current challenges and what they would like to see change. The results – both the points of agreement and the areas where stakeholders diverge—were certainly illuminating. Here are five ways to transform existing supply chain challenges into opportunities for improvement – and, we think all stakeholders will agree.
- Strengthen supply chain management to support patient safety
Responses from the survey underscored the risks of inventory problems — nearly one in four (24 percent) hospital staff have seen or heard about recalled or expired products used on a patient. More than half (57 percent) of all those surveyed recalled a time when a physician did not have a product that was needed during a procedure. Most concerning, 18 percent are aware of a patient harmed for not having the right supplies at the right time.
Implementing stronger inventory management programs can help to eliminate these risks by providing expiration and recall alerts to support patient safety and increase the overall quality of care.
- Capitalize on time wasted performing supply chain tasks to increase time spent with patients
Frontline clinicians say that they spend, on average, 17 percent of their workweek dealing with inventory issues. For a clinician who works four 12-hour shifts, that's more than two hours a shift spent on supply and inventory related tasks.
Approximately two-thirds (65 percent) of frontline providers say that they'd trade this time to be with their patients. Frustrations seem to be rising across too – one in three service line leaders (32 percent), as well as 59 percent of administrators, say that supply and inventory tasks are the part of their job they wish they didn't have to do.
Clearly, these hospital roles and responsibilities are expanding. Finding automated solutions that save time, and money, adds value to the productivity and efficiency of the enterprise.
- Combat financial challenges through supply chain solutions
The majority of survey respondents (64 percent), on an unaided basis, identified financial demands as the single greatest challenge facing their organization, and 54 percent of administrators ranked managing costs as the number one element to the organization's success. Finances were top of mind for many clinicians as well — 45 percent of service line leaders and 39 percent of frontline clinicians ranked managing costs as the number one element contributing to their organization's success.
Respondents drew a strong connection between these challenges and the hospital supply chain. In fact, respondents estimated that their organizations could save more than $500,000 using new, automated, data-driven supply chain technology, rather than manual solutions. For those that are in larger organizations, that number could be more than double.
- Take advantage of the updates that are available
Respondents identified a lack of urgency around introducing solutions that would address manual inventory management challenges. Nearly one third of respondents believed their facility had not introduced a new supply chain management system in six or more years, and another 25 percent didn't know if it had ever been changed. Overall, respondents gave their existing system low scores on ability to benchmark as well as visibility into the state of inventory.
Even though legacy systems may seem sufficient for now, supply chain leaders should consider updating their systems to avoid greater costs in the long run.
- Break down barriers that compete with progress
Even though most respondents (76 percent) drew a clear connection between the supply chain and core hospital objectives, why are so many hospitals slow to make improvements and adopt automated solutions? Respondents noted other priorities, perception of high costs, and getting buy-in as the top three barriers.
The responses also suggested many stakeholders had limited knowledge of the inventory management options that are available. Overall, 34 percent of respondents were not familiar with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, and only 10 percent said they were very familiar with it. Amongst the half that have heard of RFID technology, they recalled mainly positive associations with the technology; leaving only 9 percent with negative associations.
Educating stakeholders about the tangible return on investment from supply chain improvements can help the organization move forward. Contact us through the Medical Supply Chain Solution Center to learn more.
About Cardinal Health Supply Chain Survey
This study was fielded Oct. 19 - Nov. 4, 2016, using an online survey methodology. The samples were drawn from SERMO's Online Respondent Panel of Health Care Providers, which includes over 600,000 medical professionals in the United States. The study included 403 respondents total, including frontline healthcare providers in hospitals (n=201), service line leaders in hospitals (n=100), and hospital/supply chain administrators (n=102). All survey data on file at Cardinal Health.