Operating rooms in need of better supply chain management systems and analytics
The operating room (OR) needs better supply chain management systems and analytics to help reduce costs and support patient safety, according to a new Cardinal Health survey of surgical staff and hospital supply chain decision-makers.
Nearly half (40%) of respondents revealed they've actually canceled a case, and more than two-thirds (69%) have delayed a case because of missing supplies.
Furthermore, 27% have seen or heard of an expired product being used on a patient, and 23% have seen or heard of a patient harmed due to a lack of supplies.
"Financial challenges persist across health care systems, and the operating room is one of the most costly areas to run," said John Roy, vice president and general manager at Cardinal Health Inventory Management Solutions.
"Fortunately, there is a clear solution to support patient safety and reduce surgical case cancellations: better supply chain management."
In addition, more than half of frontline clinicians say inventory management is "complicated" or a "necessary evil." In fact, 64% of respondents admitted to hoarding supplies and cited wasting or overuse of supplies as significant problems within their organisation.
The survey found that OR surgeons and nurses are frustrated with their hospital's current manual inventory process. The majority (83%) of respondents' organisations are manually counting in some part of their supply chain, while only 15% have automated RFID systems.
However, respondents see the benefits of automation. One in four say automated systems free up time to focus on patients and support better outcomes, and 39% agree automation reduces costs.
"Fixing these challenges requires thinking beyond the shelf," said Roy. "We believe streamlining processes and gathering real-time data through automated inventory systems can transform inventory management from a 'necessary evil' to a powerful tool that supports better quality of care."
Nearly all (92 percent) frontline providers surveyed see the need for an inventory management system designed for the specific volume and nature of supplies in the OR.
Although supply chain decision makers are most responsible for cutting costs, surgeons and OR nurses recognise the importance and are up for the challenge. The majority (77%) would like to be more involved in supply chain decision-making, nearly half say "saving money helps us all," and three in four contend that quality patient care can be maintained while reducing costs.
"OR surgeons and nurses work under intense pressure and depend on a large volume of varied supplies," said Roy. "While different OR stakeholders all face their own distinct challenges, together they can form a partnership to make important changes that move their organisations forward."
Will Public Procurement Budgets Increase in 2021?
Procurement is more than just a private enterprise. COVID-19 reminded us that sourcing materials is an essential part of the government’s role. Throughout 2022, tiny departments sourced massive amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies, and emergency vaccines and testing kits. Even non-procurement professionals were pulled into the fray, as frantic timelines demanded nothing less.
According to Celeste Frye, co-founder and CEO of Public Works Partners, the crisis brought procurement to the attention of skilled employees who had never considered it. As non-procurement personnel stepped up to help their coworkers, many found that they’d stumbled upon a critical and rewarding job. “Existing public employees have seen the essential nature of the work”, Frye said. “[They’ve] gained some critical skills and possibly [grown] interested in pursuing procurement as a longer-term career”.
Small, Local Suppliers Take Charge
Frye, whose firm helps organisations engage stakeholders and develop long-term procurement strategies, thinks it well worth the effort to open one’s mind to new opportunities. Cooperative contracts, for instance, can help public departments and municipalities save money, time, and effort. By joining together with other towns or cities in the region, public procurement teams aggregate their purchasing power and can drive better deals.
These cooperative contracts have the added benefit of advancing equity. Smaller suppliers that struggle to compete with established firms for government contracts can act as subcontractors, helping big suppliers fulfil bits of the project. Once they get their foot in the door, small, local, and disadvantaged suppliers can then leverage that government relationship to take on additional projects.
Especially as governments start to pay attention to procurement resilience, public procurement departments must expand their requests for proposals (RFPs) to take into account innovative solutions and diverse suppliers. According to Frye, Public Works Partners—a certified female-owned firm—has benefitted from local and state requirements that specify diversity.
Post-Pandemic Funding Swells Procurement Budgets
And the pandemic won’t be the end of it. City governments need to build sustainable energy infrastructure such as solar panels, charging stations, and recycling plants, ensure that masks and medicines are never in short supply, and source new technologies to keep up with cloud and cybersecurity concerns.
Public procurement budgets will likely increase to match demand. As Peter Ware, Partner and Head of Government at Browne Jacobson, explained, “in a non-pandemic world, the [U.K.] government spends on average around £290 billion on outsourced services, goods, and works...anywhere between 10% and 14% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Post-pandemic, city procurement will only increase as national governments provide local divisions with emergency funding.
And in truth, government employees might jump at the opportunity. Frye noted that public procurement could give immediate feedback on new programmes: “[Procurement] is where new laws and policies ‘hit the road’ and are implemented”, she said. “Professionals in these fields get the satisfaction of creating real change and seeing quantifiable outcomes of their work”.