Robert T. Yokl, President/CEO, SVAH Solutions
It is rare that a value analysis or utilization management savings or quality and safety improvements are sustainable in and of themselves. For them to stick, you need to install policies, procedures, and systems to sustain your gains, or these hard-earned enhancements to your healthcare organization’s operations will vanish before your eyes. For example, we have documented that 26% to 46% of all new contract and value analysis savings start to disappear in a few weeks or months after being reported. This slippage happens because supply chain professionals don’t regularly validate that their savings are being achieved as projected. This is a classic case of, “you need to inspect what you expect” to ensure compliance.
The principles of supply chain sustainability consist of three pillars: People, policies, and persistence. These principles require that people understand that a “one and done” philosophy that is too often exhibited in supply chain circles isn’t a policy, but an attitude that will ensure that you will quickly deplete your resources instead of sustaining them for as long as possible. Persistence is the attribute that supply chain professionals must adopt to doggedly enforce their system, policies, and procedures that promote sustainability in all things that we do in supply chain management.
Another good example of supply chain sustainability would be the recycling of reusable medical devices. Based on our research, hospitals, systems, and IDNs can do much better in this area of their supply chain operations. It is our estimate that 28% more medical devices can be recycled (at an average 50% savings) by hospitals, systems, and IDNs, but aren’t because their recycling vendor’s measurement tools are deficient for the purpose they were designed. Only by having an internal tool to measure your true recycling intensity can your healthcare organization rein in these costs.
My point here is that to get better and sustainable results you must be willing to do things differently. All it takes is a new attitude that considers that every product, service, and technology you are buying or evaluating has a lifecycle. It’s our job as value analysis practitioners to ensure that we get the most mileage possible out of them. In some situations, it could mean to go back to buying reusables, because we have become a “throw-away” society at a cost that is now becoming prohibitive.