It’s no surprise that supply chain initiatives within a hospital can often go unnoticed unless problems arise. Despite this, supply chain expenses are expected to be the greatest cost to U.S. healthcare this year.1
With supply chain on the national stage, it’s a great opportunity to stand out as a key problem solver and supply chain advocate within your facility.
Of course, this is easier said than done- keeping visibility on all the moving parts of your supply chain can be difficult, particularly in large IDNs where multiple hospitals may still be operating independently even though they’re part of the same system.2 While the ideal solution to this problem is aggregating and scaling the supply chain into a single entity, it’s important to understand which problems are occurring across multiple facilities or departments. This is where your insight drivers come into play.
Identify your insight drivers
It’s vital to determine key contacts who can concisely and accurately report pain points to you. A great place to start is with procedural department managers, whose unique vantage points allow them to approach supply chain issues from a variety of perspectives. Like clinicians, patient care is a key focus, but they’re also able take the standpoint of administrators and managers. With this combination of clinical know-how, financial acumen, and understanding of staff frustrations, they can identify which issues are most pressing. 96% of materials managers in a recent Cardinal Health survey said supply chain management played an important role in addressing a top concern within their organization, so it’s evident that they understand just how essential the supply chain is.3
Establish standardized issue reporting
Standardized reporting practices can also benefit your organization and further optimize your network of insight drivers. By asking for an issue submission that includes a ranking of the urgency and magnitude of the problem as well as a list the specific individuals or parties affected by it, you’ll be armed with the data you need to determine which issues are most pressing. Once you have a framework for prioritization, you can create a timeline to address each issue sequentially and bring about organizational change.
Establish a community of practice
As stated previously, the healthcare supply chain is an incredibly complex and ever-evolving entity. Therefore, cross-functional collaboration is vital to its success. Beyond utilizing your insight drivers, supply chain leaders can set an example for all staff and foster an environment of open communication and problem solving. One strategy to begin such initiatives within your facility is to create a community of practice. Within a community of practice, cross-functional employees connect face-to-face (or virtually) to routinely share experiences and insights.4 This community can meet to discuss predetermined topics relevant to your facility or to address the issues recognized by your insight drivers. The diversity of thought that occurs when multiple cross-functional stakeholders collaborate can foster discussion and problem solving that no single function could develop on its own.
Be a team player
Lastly, once you do have an open flow of information within your facility, it’s important to address the negative and the positive. Ensure that staff are sharing issues they encounter as well as best practices or successes that they’ve observed. Recognizing standout staff for their contributions generates goodwill and can encourage more employees to get involved and speak out.
For more supply chain thought leadership, visit cardinalhealth.com/supplychain.
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