GHX Tackles Healthcare Supply Chain Efficiency with Best Practice Guidance

LOUISVILLE, Colo., Sept. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In a healthcare environment that continues to receive significant scrutiny, GHX, one of the market innovators in healthcare business software and solutions, released a list of six best practices that its healthcare provider and supplier customers are undertaking to address process improvements in implantable device supply chain management.

The effective tracking and management of implantable medical devices, including Physician Preference Items (PPI), is an industry-wide issue that affects healthcare efficiency and profitability for both healthcare providers and suppliers. While implants represent more than $40 billion as a market segment, lack of visibility and control over these devices costs the healthcare industry an estimated $5 billion per year from inefficient, disconnected manual processes, and lost, expired and wasted product.

Due to its inherent complexity, the implantable device supply chain (IDSC) has resisted automation and the adoption of e-commerce approaches. From the point of manufacture to the point of use, through reconciliation and billing, implantable device pathways are non-standardized, non-uniform and involve dozens of stakeholders. Insiders have long recognized the value an IDSC solution could deliver, but the hurdles impeding its realization have been prohibitively high. The following best practice recommendations are currently being implemented by provider and supplier organizations working with GHX on implantable device supply chain transformations.

  1. Drive Contract Price Visibility and Accuracy
    Healthcare providers need improved ways to manage prices for items being purchased both on- and off-contract.  Best practices: Identify products a provider is frequently purchasing and at what prices; identify products being purchased off-contract; identify like products and determine whether they can be grouped onto contracts for future purchases; assimilate those items onto group purchasing organization (GPO) or supplier contracts.  
  2. Prepare for Unique Device Identifiers
    Unique Device Identifiers (UDI) are the latest regulation to hit healthcare. Providers will benefit directly from the UDI if they are able to capture data at the point of use. And while the initial deadline for compliance is not until 2014, both providers and suppliers need to prepare now for those new requirements in order to create ways to capture the data and importantly, ways to leverage it. The UDI rules additionally impact suppliers by helping enable them to more accurately forecast demand and track recall information. Best practices: Create new levels of collaboration among providers and suppliers to identify ways to capture data needed by their organizations; create pathways and requirements for data sharing; create quality, repeatable processes for data sharing among trusted business partners.
  3. Create Visibility into Demand Signals and Forecasting
    Suppliers need visibility into provider demand for their products. Today, most manufacturers have little visibility into the billions of dollars of product out in the field. Best practice: Connect the healthcare community with a shared infrastructure to create greater sources of aggregated data for improved demand planning and forecasting.
  4. Ensure Accurate Product Data and Inventory Repositories
    Providers need to be ready to buy the right product and suppliers need to be ready to provide the right product. Best practices: Ensure accurate data sources for products and product identifiers; continuously enhance a shared repository of current information; help enable a view of items providers have in inventory; provide tracking of what providers actually use, and in turn, need.
  5. Deploy Perfect PPI Purchase Orders
    One of the areas the providers and suppliers have identified as the "holy grail" of efficiency in a best practice organization is the "perfect PPI purchase order." Achieving such a purchase order would drive increased operational and financial performance for all parties. The GHX Advisory Board Work Group defined the perfect PPI Purchase Order (PO) as electronic and requiring minimal human intervention. Best practice: Ensure all of the following for each order:
    • Contains all required data elements
    • Contains accurate data
    • Supports having products available for next procedure
    • Does not generate shipment of undesired products
    • Has the correct price
    • Does not result in an invoice dispute
  6. Be Ready to Change
    Feedback from GHX provider and supplier customers participating in its pilot program for the new implantable device management solution points out that one of the most important best practices for implantable device efficiency is the willingness to let go of current processes. Best practices: Be ready and willing to change; understand there will be technical challenges in deploying any new solution; technical changes will need to be managed along with the challenges of people and process changes; rigorous change management programs support the requirements of lasting change.

In February, GHX announced the company's development efforts to deliver the first comprehensive supply chain solution for physician preference items (PPI) and implantable medical devices. The GHX implantable device supply chain solution will capture data from product purchase to product usage at the point of care, creating capture capability while helping enable accurate billing, purchasing and inventory tracking. 

With development of this solution, GHX is building on its capabilities in cloud-based technology, expanding its cross-healthcare solution connecting supply chain, finance and clinical professionals with their suppliers and partners. The GHX implantable device supply chain will be available in first quarter 2013.

About GHX
Global Healthcare Exchange, LLC (GHX), a healthcare technology and services company, helps reduce the cost of doing business in healthcare by enabling better supply chain management. GHX makes it easier for hospitals, other healthcare providers and the suppliers that do business with them to drive cost and inefficiency out of their processes. Working with GHX, the healthcare organizations that make up the GHX Global Network are on track to save $5 billion by 2014—savings that can be invested in such things as hiring more nurses, providing care to uninsured children or developing new medical products. GHX is owned by organizations on both the buy and sell side of the healthcare supply chain, including some of the largest companies in the world. Find GHX on the Web, on [email protected]_LLC and on Facebook @GHX.