Your health system is getting more complex by the day. As more non-acute sites are added, more discrepancies in supply chain processes may occur. Different sites may order different products – and from different vendors – and your clinicians may find themselves getting bogged down in manual supply chain processes instead of spending time with patients. For better operational, financial, and clinical success, your health system needs a way to streamline the supply chain. But where do you start?

The answers lie in technology. Below, three experts suggest strategies for streamlining supply chain processes at all the sites within your health system.

1. Use data and analytics

As more non-acute sites – from ambulatory surgery centers and physician offices to home-care agencies – join your health system, the need for greater visibility grows. Your key to that visibility? Data. Jacob Hookom expands on this in “How Data Can Improve Your Health System’s Non-Acute Supply Chain.” Hookom is the vice president of B2B customer experience for McKesson Medical-Surgical. He says you can first use analytic tools to collect data from each point in your supply chain. Next, you can use this data to understand how much of each product you’re ordering. You can see how much you’re paying. And you can see who you’re buying it from. This will clue you into two things:

  • Ordering behaviors across different sites. Your data can help you compare ordering behaviors with best practices for each type of care setting. Is each site ordering the right supplies at the right time? Do these practices help you give proper care to patients without any waste?
  • Contract compliance. Are your non-acute sites buying under your contracts? Or are they buying outside of your contracts and possibly paying more for the same thing?

By examining each of your sites’ orders and contracts through data analysis, you can identify ways to make supply chain processes more efficient and cost-effective.

2. Opt for product standardization

Armed with this data, it’s time to take action. One of the best tactics you can take is to identify product discrepancies across sites and standardize them.

Jon Pildis speaks to this in “Leveraging Product Standardization for Health System Efficiency.” Pildis is the vice president of materials management for McKesson Medical-Surgical. He says your health system can standardize everything from hand sanitizer to unique specialty drugs. But this requires careful planning. Pildis suggests the following steps to get everyone on board:

  • Get the right tools. Make sure your health system has the right technology and capabilities to standardize products.
  • Talk to stakeholders. Get all stakeholders on board from the beginning. Start building a culture of standardization and communication.
  • Start simple. Show how product standardization can work with simple items like paper towels or gloves. Your health system can then start to see what standardization looks like on a product that’s unlikely to have any pushback from staff. Next, increase the complexity to something like rapid diagnostic tests, and so on.

Gradually begin standardizing products that your health system orders the most. This will allow you to start predictive ordering.

3. Switch to predictive ordering

The data and analytics you’ve gathered – and the product standardization you’ve begun – will help you with predictive ordering. This automates the ordering process, especially for commonly-needed items. And it can simplify supply chain processes throughout all your sites.

Scott McDade discusses this in “How to Improve Supply Chain Efficiency for Non-Acute Care.” McDade is the general manger of health systems for McKesson Medical-Surgical. He explains that the data you’ve gathered can help you see which products are ordered the most. Next, when you set up a formulary and standardize those products, you can switch to predictive ordering. This means your most frequently ordered products are ordered automatically, instead of having to be manually reordered every time you’re out of stock. McDade notes that you might still have to manually order some products that you don’t often use—but it might be 15% of your inventory instead of 100%.

Switching to predictive ordering can bring the following benefits to your health system:

  • Increases ordering accuracy and efficiency
  • Takes your clinicians off the supply chain, giving them more time to spend with patients
  • Increases revenue by improving patient care and safety performance measures

The right technology can give you clear data on your health system’s ordering behavior. It can help you streamline processes through switching to standardization and, eventually, predictive ordering. By automating key functions, you improve efficiency and streamline supply chain processes throughout your health system.

Related: Learn more about McKesson’s medical supplies for health system non-acute settings

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