Clinical Integration for Your Value Analysis Program and Supply Chain

Clinical Integration for Your Value Analysis Program and Supply Chain
By Robert W. Yokl, Sr. VP, Supply Chain & Value Analysis — SVAH Solutions

With the new term “Clinical Integration in Supply Chain” that has been embraced by many health systems throughout the country, there seems to be a little confusion regarding the actionable steps with this next level modality. You could easily say that you need more physician involvement in value analysis teams or need to add more clinicians to the teams as well. Most value analysis teams are already made up of key clinicians, including some doctors. What exactly are you going to accomplish with just adding these titles to your teams?

Let’s face it, we have never ignored clinicians in the value analysis or strategic sourcing aspect of the healthcare supply chain. If anything, there is even more specialized clinical expertise in place on Category Specific Value Analysis Teams (e.g., Cath Lab, Surgical, Radiology, Clinical Nursing, etc.) with mostly nurses now tasked with managing the process. The same goes for the evidence-based processes employed on new product requests which take up a good bit of value analysis agendas. If anything, there is certainly more involvement and more engagement of clinicians with value analysis and strategic sourcing processes in supply chain.

What Should Be the Primary Objectives of This New Modality, Clinical Integration? 

Just having the clinicians sit on your VA teams does not always guarantee improved engagement or results. We have found that the best way to support this new modality is to first update or create a formal value analysis strategic plan which will detail exactly what your clinical integration program will look like. This will include training programs, case studies, and software reporting for this next level engagement.

How to Drive Results from a Clinical Departmental Level

A great example of this is when we worked with a large university teaching medical center and provided each of their clinical departments with a category-by-category volume centric benchmark report of all of their nursing units including their Emergency Department. Each department then designated a clinical supply leader who was responsible for investigating their top areas of improvement. They were then provided a unit specific category-by-category benchmark report that compared their own historical best practices and also compared them to other like-sized nursing units in the medical center. The clinical supply leader would then identify one or two projects to work on for cost and quality improvement and report the results to the Nursing Shared Governance Council at the medical center.

When this was initially rolled out and presented to the Nurse Managers and Directors at this medical center, I thought it would quickly get blown out of the water or ignored altogether. Not only did the Nurse Managers and Directors “get it” but they started asking for changes to the reporting and timeframes for when the data was delivered to their clinical supply leaders. Plus, they made sure that everyone was trained in the process and understood the objectives which refers back to accountability to the Nursing Shared Governance Council.

Nurse Led Improvement at Its Best

The end results were amazing as they found out who their best practice nursing units were and their consumption of products such as IV sets, glucose test strips, and every major product used on a unit. They found inventory mistakes, incongruent policy issues, product mismatches, waste, storage issues for products and reusables, as well as how to maximize patient care and life cycle use of their patient care products. This was a clinician-driven system that, once trained and coached, they started making major strides toward improving patient care while lowering costs. All this happened with very specific planning, reporting, and accountability which should be the key ingredients of a clinical integration program for your supply chain and value analysis program.

About Robert W. Yokl, Sr. VP of Value Analysis & Supply Chain Solutions
Robert is the Program Leader for SVAH Solutions that provides value analysis, clinical supply utilization, and savings validation tools to help organizations to gain the next level of savings beyond price and standardization.

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