The Triple Aim challenges health systems to reduce costs while also improving quality and patient experience. For many healthcare leaders, this inevitably puts variation in the crosshairs. Whether in the form of differing lengths of stay, unnecessary emergency care or irregular lab test processing times, variation can create disparities in quality, outcomes and patient experience.
Typically, standardization initiatives focus on the clinical layer but overlook how problems or missed opportunities in support functions like printing or food service can create variations in care. Intra-company logistics is one such below-the-radar category that can enable broader process standardization, a function more and more relevant as systems expand their geographic footprint and add points-of-care.
Consider the potential impact on equipment rental. As a health system executive, Mark Dixon and his team discovered huge expenditure on bed rental while at the same time beds were sitting unused in hospital hallways. “We started looking at the tip of the iceberg, and thought, 'Why are we spending a million dollars on renting beds?' We just weren't paying attention to those costs,” Dixon said. By centralizing bed management and using logistics to deploy them more effectively, his team was able to cut rental expenses by over 60%.
Whether it's equipment like beds or consumables like drugs or gloves, a strong intra-company logistics program helps providers centralize their management, reduce inventories and move them to where they're needed at any given time. By exploring innovative applications of intra-company logistics like this, executives can find opportunities to standardize and centralize to meet the Triple Aim.