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Supply Chain 101 for Mobile Medical Equipment

Posted by Todd Stewart on Nov 14, 2014 10:00:00 AM

In Data Management, Hospital Operations Management, Departmental Communication, ServiceLink


Reduce the Cost of Care Delivery

As I continue to consult with clients and prospects, there is an all too common theme amongst them. While most are very focused on evidence-based data to improve clinical outcomes, far fewer seem to be using evidence-based data to drive operational improvements such as making sure clean, patient ready, bedside mobile medical equipment is available in the right place at the right time. 

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, healthcare leaders must continue to find ways to reduce the cost of care delivery. While many eyes are focused on readmission and/or length of stay reductions tied to reimbursements (or the lack there of), the 'hidden side' of their healthcare delivery system, hospital operations, can also yield substantial cost reductions without having to reinvent the wheel. 

Hidden Challenges

It takes a monumental effort each and every day to provide all of the various support services required to keep a hospital chugging along. The amount of waste hidden within these various functions can have a crippling financial effect that's difficult for most organizations to quantify. Take mobile medical equipment as an example. Front line clinical staff need IV pumps, feeding pumps, pain pumps, etc. to treat patients day in and day out yet, the process by which this critical equipment is made available to caregivers is challenging for many organizations. Does it really have to be this difficult?

Balancing Demand

The distribution, use, and management of mobile medical equipment should follow the same basic supply chain 101 principles that consumable medical supplies do - it's all about making sure you have the right supply to meet your demand. Capturing demand is crucial to having the right inventory on hand, regardless of whether it's adult foley catheter kits or infusion pumps. Having too few means emergency purchases, too many means higher carrying costs than necessary.

The majority of hospitals today all seem to have enough equipment on hand to meet overall patient demand, even when census is high. Yet many of them buy or rent more of what they already own which drives their operational costs higher.There's got to be a better way!

Ready for Action

Empowering front line care givers with simple, easy to use tools which allow them to quickly log a request for what they need and where they need it, is a great way to capture equipment demand. Once baseline demand data has been captured and trended, accurate PAR levels can be established on the nursing units which staff can draw from as needed.

Successful Execution

Unlike foley cath kits, pumps do not make a one way trip. They need to come back for re-use over and over again. This is where supply chain of consumables versus re-useables differs. As infusion therapies and other treatments are discontinued, the now soiled equipment should be taken to a designated soiled utility room where it can be retrieved, properly decontaminated, and made patient ready again, thus completing a closed loop supply chain lifecycle.

Having the right 'tools' in place to create an efficient 'demand/fulfillment' closed loop, regardless of the type of request, will provide hospitals with the evidence based data necessary to identify and eliminate waste and unnecessary cost from their care delivery model.


How to Empower Clinicians and Support Services