Supply Chain: From Silos and Hoarding to Transparency and Sharing

Great article in a series regarding patient centered healthcare.  Helping patients through the process and ensuring that they have a great outcome is not just a clinical discussion, as Anita Tucker presents, ‘I have come to the conclusion that health care professionals will continue to struggle to deliver it unless hospitals redesign their internal supply processes, structures, and measurement systems so that staff have the specific materials and equipment needed for patients’ individual care plans, when they are needed.’

‘My research shows that problems with the supply of equipment and materials – which I call ‘operational failures’ – disrupt care and waste up to 10% of nurses’ workdays.’  She made this comment shortly after telling the story of a hospital she visited and their obvious lack of available assets.  ‘The shortage motivated some nurses to arrive 30 minutes before their shifts to secure computers for themselves.  They did this by making the computer appear broken or by putting personal possessions on it to deter other nurses from using the device.’  At Cohealo we call this hoarding, we call it this because that is what our nursing partners call it, as they hoard every day the items that they know they will have trouble gaining access to during their shift.

We have seen this across all types of life-saving equipment: with ventilators, microscopes, and trays, in the end there is a large amount of time and energy wasted by staff members locating the assets that they need to deliver care.  ‘Hospitals rely on workaround culture rather than on excellent processes to provide patient centered care.’  There are more and more supply chain focused discussions in healthcare than ever before, the issue that I continue to see is the lack of true change.  Supply chain can be run better, but it is still in its own silo in the hospital.’

‘… (problems) originate in supply departments but surface in nursing units and nurses do not have the authority to change supply processes to make sure they do not re-occur.  While supply departments can change their processes, it’s not in their best interests: They would bear the cost without reaping the benefit.’  Another issue I’ve seen is that each department is using their own technology solutions, there is no consistent view of the ‘healthcare system’ that provides transparency to every contact point.  With each different solution in place and with each contact having their own view, the amount of communication needed to make anything happen means people work around the system, hoarding and ‘taking care of their patient’, instead of fixing the supply/demand issues.

Cohealo continues to look for health systems that are forward thinking and proactive to help us shift the current paradigm.  Shifting old habits to new methodologies, moving from silos to transparency, replacing hoarding with sharing and delivering customized care to ensure the best clinical outcome possible.

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