Survey Links Supply Chain To Patient Safety

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How would you rate your supply chain process? Best bets this is not a question on the forefront of your mind while at work, but it is an important one to consider --especially when it comes to patient safety.

A Cardinal Health survey of hospital staff and decision makers found that despite respondents rating their supply chain processes as “good,” one in four hospital staff have seen or heard of expired product being used on a patient, and 18 percent have seen or heard of a patient being harmed due to a lack of necessary supplies.

“Supply chain management is not only a key business tool, but an essential component in supporting patient safety and care,” said Shaden Marzouk, MD, MBA, chief medical officer at Cardinal Health. “Our survey found that 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 survey also found that supply chain tasks are impacting frontline clinicians. Physicians and nurses currently spend, on average, nearly 20 percent of their workweek on supply chain and inventory management. If they could reallocate this time, more than half said that they would spend this time with patients, while others said they would focus on research and education or training new staff.

This data points to the critical need for a modern supply chain that is beyond “good.” In fact, more than half of hospital staff strongly agree that better supply chain management leads to better quality of care and supports patient safety. They also largely believe the supply chain is critically important in addressing cost, quality and patient satisfaction.The survey revealed nearly one-third of respondents haven’t implemented a new inventory management system in at least six years, and another 25 percent don’t know if it’s ever been done. In fact, 78 percent are manually counting inventory in some parts of their supply chain and only 17 percent have implemented an automated technology system to track products and 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.”

Supply chain administrators had the greatest influence over supply chain decisions, followed by group purchasing organizations, but all respondents reported having some influence. To help supply chain leaders assess how effectively their supply chain operations are performing, Cardinal Health launched an Inventory Management IQ quiz.

The Cardinal Health Hospital Supply Chain Survey, fielded by SERMO, provides a comprehensive look at hospital supply chain perceptions from supply chain administrators, service line leaders, physicians and nurses. Additional survey results are available at Cardinal Health Essential Insights.

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