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Developing and Implementing Actionable Healthcare Supply Chain Metrics: One Health System’s Story

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With some experts predicting that medical supplies could surpass labor as the number-one expenditure in hospitals this year1, supply teams are under increasing pressure to achieve cost savings by operating more efficiently — in part, by making better use of data.

However, data is only as useful as it is easy for stakeholders throughout the health system to access and interpret. And investment in automated supply management platforms that offer visibility to real-time product data and analytics can be extremely costly.

So what do you do?

BJC HealthCare's Story

One health system’s story we found interesting at Suture Express was BJC HealthCare, where the Supply Chain’s Operations and Analytics teams have been working together to develop actionable metrics to improve supply chain efficiency and patient outcomes. “We don’t have one of those really broad platforms that gives us insight into every step in the supply chain process,” says Jessica Campbell, senior data analyst at BJC. “They represent a large capital investment, lost time installing them and a steep learning curve.”

Instead, the team at BJC is making the most of what it has, working with internal customers to evaluate processes and come up with solutions to less-than-optimal inventory management, data problems or equipment problems that contribute to increased waste or lower product service levels without the need for capital expenditure.

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Campbell discussed the early phase of this work at AHRMM19 in San Diego last year during a presentation, titled, “Developing and Implementing Actionable Metrics: A Case for Operations and Analytics Partnership.” “Being able to do performance improvement with internal customers is paramount to your supply team’s success,” Campbell told the group.

Based in St. Louis, BJC HealthCare operates 15 health service organizations in metropolitan St. Louis, southern Illinois and mid-Missouri. Its Supply Chain Department is responsible for managing inventory distributed across 2,500 par locations, the majority kept in just-in-time (JIT) rooms. The department comprises approximately 330 operations staff and a group of in-house developers — two teams that weren’t in the habit of working with each other to address supply chain issues.

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“We had a big gap between our operations and analytics teams — similar goals but totally different paths for getting there and only spotty communication,” Campbell says. “Some didn’t even know we (the analytics team) existed as a resource or what we could help with.”
That changed in January 2018, when the two teams pulled together to look for ways to improve supply chain efficiency, which had become a chronic sticking point among internal customers. “While we had a tool to measure efficiency, it wasn’t developed with input from the operations team and, therefore, was not intuitive to the end user (clinical teams),” Campbell explains.

So the analytics team went back to the drawing board, sending its analysts to operations meetings and establishing a core team that in addition to Campbell, included a regional logistics manager and an analyst focused on data structure and preparation. “We learned very quickly whether you have the right people involved and when you don’t,” she says. “When we realized we were able to address any questions that came up within the team, we knew we had the right people involved. When you develop
a core team, you stick with it throughout the process.”

Click below to read the full article detailing the BJC team’s approach to developing actionable metrics — in particular, a usable fill-rate report — and how their partnership has led to other solutions that have helped the hospital supply chain run more efficiently.

Download the full article below to read more.

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To learn more about what Suture Express may be able to do for you, visit us at sutureexpress.com or call 877-790-1873.

Sources:

1Definitive Healthcare, “Reigning in Hospital Supply Costs & Physician Preference Item Spending,” August 2020

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