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Financial recovery: Perioperative Supply Conservation post-COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic affected every part of the healthcare world, and one such area that continues to plague hospitals is their supply chain management processes. While managing the pandemic, shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and other vital supplies hindered the response to this crisis, and additional waves of shortages are likely still coming over the course of the next few months. Complications arising from these shortages have exposed an acute call to action for leaders across the healthcare supply chain—from manufacturers to distributors to provider organizations (purchasers)—to re-evaluate legacy strategies that have prioritized efficiency over resiliency.

In the early onset of the pandemic, the first countries that were hardest hit happened to be the largest manufacturers of U.S. medical supplies. In the United States’ attempt to conserve supplies and resources, elective surgical procedures were halted. Re-opening has begun in phases since but there is still apprehension about surgical facilities’ ability to secure a steady stream of supplies. Additionally, spending on PPE and other supplies critical to pandemic-related care increased, leaving providers with rapidly declining funds. We anticipate many health systems will accelerate efforts to standardize physician preference items, including implantable devices, to offset spending growth in other areas.

The perioperative department is one of the hospital’s largest consumers of supplies. To make surgical teams efficient, they use Preference Cards that list supplies that a surgeon will typically need to successfully perform a procedure. Outdated and/or inaccurate preference cards increase “OR door openings” for supply runs. This might not seem like anything more than a minor inconvenience, but when a surgical team member must leave the room to retrieve supplies, it can distract the surgical team from the patient procedure and potentially prolong anesthesia time. A study found that 23% of OR door openings come from supply runs or missing supplies. Further, restocking unused supplies results in excess labor and time spent on inventory activities. Each year, the healthcare industry wastes $5 billion on expired, lost or uncaptured preference card charges.

So how can your organization remain vigilant about its supply conservation processes?

One way to create a streamlined approach to your supply chain is using a Preference Card Analyzer, a data-driven mode of providing an accurate supply list and more precise estimates of supply quantities on the cards. With it, organizations can identify items that are on Preference Cards and how often they are being used. In some cases, an item can be listed on a Preference Card for years, but after analyzing, surgical teams find that the item is not actually being used (at least, not as often as previously thought.) Pulling items that are not used in the OR leads to time and waste from unintended opening of unneeded supplies. A Preference Card Analyzer also enables organizations to see what gets frequently added to the case after the initial card is created, or which supplies show the wrong quantity.

This tool, however, is only as good as the availability of the clinician using it. One of the reasons why many facilities have obsolete Preference Cards is because clinical leads rarely have the time to verify the validity of Preference Card change requests. Preference Card management also requires clinician clerical time, which, in this era of nursing shortage, is scarce. The Preference Card Analyzer makes it easy for the clinician to run the analysis and update multiple cards in one screen.

Surgical supply inventory has always been important, but in the past, it has been difficult for some hospitals to properly prioritize. However, if organizations want to financially recover quickly, they will need to standardize physician preference items and bring their Preference Cards to a better level of precision. With the proper tools, financial recovery after COVID-19 is possible. If you would like to read more about the Sunrise Perioperative Suite solution, go here.

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