By Christine Kern, contributing writer
Better supply chain management leads to better quality of care and improved patient safety.
A Cardinal Health survey found hospital staff report better supply chain management leads to better quality of care and supports patient safety. The survey of 400 physicians, nurses, service line leaders, and supply chain administrators further found “good” doesn’t cut it when it comes to patient safety: in fact, nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of those polled reported using an expired or recalled product on a patient. Eighteen percent said they knew of a patient being harmed because they lacked the necessary supplies, and 57 percent said they didn’t have the right product available during a procedure.
“Supply chain management is not only a key business tool, but an essential component in supporting patient safety and care,” says Shaden Marzouk, MD, MBA, chief medical officer at Cardinal Health. “Our survey found many hospitals are experiencing patient safety issues that could be prevented through supply chain improvements. Ultimately, everyone at the hospital plays a role in advocating for a more efficient supply chain that will allow physicians and nurses to put their time to its best use: delivering high-quality care more effectively and efficiently.”
The study also found less time with supply chain means more time with patients; currently, physicians and nurses spend nearly 20 percent of their workweek on supply chain and inventory tasks. Indeed, more than half (65 percent) would spend this time with patients, while others would focus on research and education or training new staff.
Supply chain automation and analytics could be the next frontier for improving care. The study found it’s been six years since one-third of those surveyed have implemented a new inventory management system, while one quarter say they don’t know if it’s ever been done. Additionally, 78 percent surveyed are manually counting inventory in some parts of their supply chain while only 17 percent have an automated technology system to track inventory in real time.
“In a field like healthcare, driven by science and technological innovation, advanced inventory systems are the next frontier for improving care,” said Scott Nelson, senior vice president of Supply Chain at Cardinal Health. “Today, automated technology for the healthcare industry exists to deliver supply chain data and analytics, which can support patient safety, reduce costs and improve workflows.”