Amanda Akers

Hospital Supply Chain Management Is Reaching A Critical Point

Supply Chain Management is a Growing Problem for Hospitals

Supply chain issues were a hallmark of the pandemic years. Empty grocery store shelves and massive shipping delays frustrated many of us, particularly during the holidays. But consumer-facing businesses were not alone in their supply chain management woes. Hospitals across the U.S. also reported difficulties in acquiring the medical supplies they needed in order to operate normally.

But evidence shows that hospital supply chain issues existed long before COVID-19. The pandemic, in fact, only highlighted and exacerbated issues that already existed and continue to plague hospitals today. As the country recovers from the lingering effects of the pandemic, many hospitals are facing the need to reduce operating costs; the difficulty, of course, lies in how to do so without sacrificing patient care. Now that COVID has revealed the gaps in the system, it is critical that hospitals take the opportunity to solve their supply chain issues.

Inaccurate preference cards affect supply chain management in hospitals

Perhaps the foremost thing the pandemic revealed was that hospitals need to be better prepared for disruptions. No hospital should still be relying on fragile, outdated systems that cannot stand up to kind of pressure and strain that the pandemic brought. In recent months, geopolitical conflicts are further exacerbating supply chain problems. Hospitals that do not yet have robust systems in place do deal with these kinds of unexpected supply interruptions must acquire them expeditiously.

Hospitals Need Reliable Data

One critical thing that hospitals need to do is ensure that the systems they have in place to manage their supply chains include immediate access to quality data. Hospitals need to be able to rely on data to better understand their current inventory needs and predict future needs, including having contingency plans in case of unprecedented events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Inventory decisions that are based on faulty data result in enormous waste of unused medical supplies, an expense that may eventually surpass personnel expenses in hospitals. Wasted supplies and an inventory that doesn’t match operating room needs can not only be costly, lowering the hospital’s bottom line, but can also lead to procedure delays, which can increase patient risk.

Preference Cards: The Key to Clean Data

In the process of ensuring their supply chain data is correct, hospitals cannot ignore the impact of preference cards. Outdated and inaccurate physician preference cards are known to lead to massive supply waste, which can amount to millions of dollars wasted every year. Additionally, faulty preference cards can result in the over-processing of supplies. Over-processing not only increases the risk of contamination, but also distorts perceptions of inventory for supply chain management, as the same unused supplies get rotated in and out of operating rooms over and over again. Outdated preference cards and the data issues they cause thus add severe strain to already taxed supply chains.

So the question remains, what can hospitals do to make progress toward solving their supply chain issues? How can they ensure they have the visibility and data they need while mitigating the effects of faulty preference cards? Evidence shows that most operating room staff are unaware of the cost of supplies and the financial strain that waste creates. But studies have also found that education alone is not a sufficient solution. Surgical staff have limited time outside of the OR, and preference card management needs to be an ongoing exercise that staff can perform with little effort in order to ensure that inventory data is current and easily accessible. Additionally, since supply chain management involves a number of teams within the hospital, these teams need to be able to communicate seamlessly and use the data to make informed decisions.

A software solution with the ability to clean data, make recommendations, and allow teams to communicate effectively is one dependable way to ensure that supplies do not go to waste and hospital inventory is up-to-date and available. To learn about PrefTech’s AI-powered software solution, you can get in touch with us here.