Supply chain management is one area where hospitals must work to cut back on waste. In some cases, it falls by the wayside, but issues with the supply chain can lead to inefficiencies that negatively impact patients’ care. So it needs to be at the forefront of healthcare executives’ minds.
As per a press release, Cardinal Health talked to 400 doctors, nurses, service line leaders and supply chain administrators in hospitals, asking them about their observations.
The good & the bad
According to a report about the survey, most people rated their general supply chain processes as “good,” saying they could usually find the right product when needed, keep track of recalled and expiring products, manage inventory volume and accurately capture charges.
However, problems do persist. One of the biggest issues involves supply availability. Almost 60% of hospital staff reported that they didn’t have the product needed during a procedure, and almost 20% could recall a case where a patient was harmed because the facility didn’t have the supplies required.
Additionally, 24% of respondents knew of a case where a recalled or an expired product was used on a patient.
Hospital staff also spend more time than they should on supply chain tasks – even those on the front lines.
Doctors and nurses alone spend almost 20% of their workweek just on supply chain management. Most of them (66%) wish they weren’t spending so much time working on supply, inventory and administrative tasks. And 65% of them indicated that if they weren’t spending so much time on these tasks, they’d be able to spend more time with their patients.
Supply tasks can often be time-consuming because much of the work is done manually. In fact, 78% of respondents said they’re still manually counting inventory to keep track of supplies. Other methods hospital staff are using to manage the supply chain include a bar code system (74%) and automated inventory systems (61%).
Benefits of automation
Adding automation to the process could lead to major savings for hospitals. Supply chain administrators surveyed estimated that facilities could save an average of $500,000 by implementing more high-tech supply chain technology solutions such as data analytics and RFID tracking (which uses chips in tags that connect with electromagnetic fields to track supplies in real time).
Between the money that could be saved by automating the supply chain and the additional time that clinical staff would regain, looking into modernizing this process at your hospital may be beneficial. Improving supply chain management could keep your hospital from spending money on unnecessary supplies, while allowing clinicians to spend more time with patients.