Hospital execs say supply chain protocols don't make the grade

Many hospitals have difficulty embracing supply chain technologies and best practices that would increase efficiency and profitability, according to a new survey from GHX.

GHX polled 75 senior executives with decision-making authority relating to the purchase or management of implantable devices at hospitals with more than 125 licensed beds. Of these respondents, 79 percent said they prioritized keeping supply chain costs low, but 78 percent said hospitals are behind in supply chain technology best practices.

And  nearly one in five said they are in the "Stone Age," with a significant gap between their current performance and where they could or should be.

Almost two-thirds of respondents agreed their institution lacks the kind of real-time reporting (62 percent) and advanced modeling techniques (65 percent) necessary to streamline their implantable medical device supply chain, according to the survey results. Seventy percent said excess time spent on inventory restocking is a "very" or "somewhat significant" problem in their operating rooms, and 45 percent agreed or strongly agreed that they lack comprehensive, accurate implantable medical device supply chain reports.

The survey also found:

  • More than half of respondents (55 percent) identified surgical procedure delays caused by the device-ordering process a "very" or "somewhat significant" problem

  • Fifty-three percent of respondents said the same about staff ability to locate medical-surgical supplies when needed

  • Although about three in four respondents said their hospital has a device tracking system, 47 percent said it would be "very" or "somewhat difficult" to track patients' devices in the event of a recall

"As an industry, we must commit to transforming healthcare by reducing costs and delivering more cost-effective, high-quality patient care," GHX President and CEO Bruce Johnson said in an announcement. "That's why GHX set out to achieve our '5-in-5' goal, which aims to take $5 billion out of the cost of healthcare during the five year program, ending December 31, 2014. Stripping out these unnecessary supply chain costs is the key to keeping time, money and resources focused on the patient."

Efficient supply chain management is vital for both cost management and patient outcomes, Brent Johnson, Intermountain Healthcare's vice president supply chain and support services and chief purchasing officer, said last fall, FierceHealthFinance previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the survey results (.pdf)
- read the announcement