Amanda Akers

The Benefits of Preference Card Management Software

Preference cards are an industry standard reference tool used to facilitate the surgical team’s preparation of a hospital’s operating room prior to a surgical case. They contain instructions regarding the setup of the operating room as well as lists of the tools and supplies that the performing surgeon requires for the procedure.

When cards are not properly kept up to date, they can cause a smorgasbord of problems for hospitals. Proper management and maintenance, on the other hand, has proven benefits, including better operational efficiency, improved physician satisfaction, and substantial cost savings.

When preference cards become problematic, hospitals may turn to a variety of solutions. Some will simply pressure their clinicians to clean the cards manually without updating the process at all – a reactive solution that will only need to be re-implemented once the cards inevitably deteriorate again. Others will try to re-think their preference card management process – or create one if they don’t have one already – often hiring a consultancy to oversee the process. Still others will try to manipulate their EMR systems to digitize their preference cards, creating some sort of in-house solution. But the inherent difficulties of managing preference cards mean that in the vast majority of these cases, these solutions fall short.

Preference Card Management Software: A Dedicated Solution

The fact is that the problem of preference card management is a complex one, and in order to solve it, hospitals need a dedicated preference card solution. In recent years, preference card management (PCM) software has emerged as a game-changer. PCM software is designed specifically for the management of preference cards and, thereby, the optimization of the operating room and hospital supply chain. While other services merely digitize preference cards or treat them as a tangential add-on, PCM software focuses on solving the unique problems preference cards create and leveraging the valuable data they contain. As a result, PCM software offers hospitals indisputable benefits.

  1. Cut Supply Costs: PCM software can facilitate a dramatic reduction in surgical supply costs. PCM software not only tracks exactly what is being used in the OR, but it also flags supplies that fall out of use and identifies less costly supply alternatives already within the hospital’s system. As a result, hospitals can ensure they are not overpaying for supplies while reducing overstock, expired stock, and return cost, generating instant savings.

  2. Reduce Supply Waste: Similarly, PCM software can greatly reduce supply waste and the wasteful spending that accompanies it. Hospitals throw away millions of dollars worth of unused surgical supplies every year. This waste is directly correlated to the errors created by inaccurate preference cards and has serious detrimental effects on a hospital’s bottom line. PCM software ensures that unused items are flagged for easy removal from preference cards, which significantly reduces surgical supply waste.

  3. Standardize Supplies: Standardization of supplies ensures that the hospital is maximizing every dollar spent on surgical supplies. It allows supply chain to optimize inventory levels, reduce waste, and negotiate better pricing with supply vendors. Additionally, standardization can lead to better OR efficiency and patient outcomes, as reducing redundant supply options better ensures procedure consistency and reduces the risk of human error.

  4. Reduce Burnout & Automate Decision Making: PCM software gives clinicians an effortless way to manage preference cards while reducing screen time and human error. Traditional preference card management involves considerable administrative work, which is highly manual in nature and thus is both time-consuming and prone to errors. It also frequently increases screen time for physicians and nurses, a phenomenon that has been linked directly to burnout. PCM software uses an algorithm to identify trends and patterns around supply consumption and cost metrics, automating the work of data entry, card maintenance, and decision-making. Automating these processes reduces paperwork and screen time while allowing staff to focus on more critical tasks.

  5. Maximize OR Efficiency: Preference card errors can give rise to serious inefficiencies in the OR, including disrupted procedures, increased turnover time, fewer on-time starts, and reduced case volume. PCM software eliminates reliance on manual processes and paperwork, markedly reducing the risk of these inefficiencies. The enhanced accuracy of PCM software thus promotes patient safety, decreases frustration, and enables the hospital to perform more procedures.

  6. Improve OR Workflow: Effective communication and collaboration are crucial in healthcare settings. PCM software integrates data from the EMR and ERP systems, providing a centralized platform that enables seamless collaboration among clinicians, surgeons, and supply chain personnel. Consequently, surgical teams can prepare the OR adequately, and supply chain can optimize inventory management and procurement, fostering a more efficient and synchronized workflow. PCM software also provides an auditable trail of the changes made to preference cards, reducing the burden of manual record keeping and ensuring accountability and data integrity.

PCM software is revolutionizing the way that hospitals approach and manage preference cards. Embracing this technology not only boosts operational efficiency but can also contribute to better patient outcomes and overall procedure quality. Hospitals that face perennial problems related to preference cards and the supply chain would do well to explore PCM software as a solution.