The summit, structured as a collaborative, in-person workshop, was a new Medline program for healthcare providers and supply chain teams. Teams consisted of experts spanning clinical, infection prevention and supply chain specialties—many of whom never had met in person, despite working together remotely for years. The groups collaborated to drive the following initiatives:
• Employ standardization across 12 product categories
• Reduce SKUs by 44 percent
• Reduce manufacturers from 250 to 48
“Standardization is vital for direct patient caregivers because we want to do the same thing every time we do a particular task or procedure,” explains Anne Macy, system director for infection prevention, Bon Secours Mercy Health. “That provides reliability for the patient and improves our patient outcomes overall.”
Ultimately, there are many challenges to overcome when uniting the supply chains of two companies—Bon Secours and Mercy Health, which had recently merged. According to Whitaker, one of the biggest issues to address was the different enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Data analytics is often quite labor intensive, especially when companies are coming in from different places. Also, having an interdisciplinary team or approach is not always the standard and can require a shift in culture and attitudes to bring everyone together. Collaboration is crucial when evaluating analytics and making data-driven decisions that will ultimately save in time, money and resources.
There were also the challenges associated with prioritizing patient outcomes over cost. BSMH, like many providers, sometimes select products that are more expensive because they are thought to provide better patient outcomes. Ultimately, savings can often come through the reality of reduced infections and reduced readmissions, which are more costly and have a deeper negative impact on operations. The goal is to find the balance, and product standardization is often the key.