Image: A new survey shows supply chain shortages can result in postponed surgeries (Photo courtesy of Cardinal Health).
A new survey concludes that the operating room (OR) needs better supply chain management systems and analytics to help reduce costs and support patient safety.
The Cardinal Health (Dublin, OH, USA) 3rd annual Hospital Supply Chain Survey, fielded by SERMO (New York, NY, USA), a private social media network for physicians in the United States and 149 other countries, provides comprehensive OR supply chain perceptions as seen by supply chain administrators, service line leaders, physicians, and nurses. The survey included 128 frontline clinicians, 100 OR supply chain decision-makers, and 77 supply chain administrators from health care organizations varying in size, specialty, and practice area.
The results revealed that 40% of respondents had actually canceled a case, and more than two-thirds (69%) had delayed a case because of missing supplies. Furthermore, 27% had seen or heard of an expired product being used on a patient, and 23% had seen or heard of a patient harmed due to a lack of supplies. OR surgeons and nurses were frustrated with their hospital’s manual inventory process, with more than half stating that inventory management is complicated or a necessary evil, and 64% admitting to hoarding supplies and citing wasting or overuse of supplies as significant problems within their organization.
The majority (83%) of organizations are manually counting in some part of their supply chain, with only 15% having automated radiofrequency identification (RFID) systems. But the respondents did recognize the benefits of automation; one in four said automated systems free up time to focus on patients and support better outcomes, and 39% agree that automation reduces costs. Nearly all frontline providers surveyed saw the need for an inventory management system designed for the specific volume and nature of supplies in the OR, and 77% would like to be more involved in supply chain decision-making.
“Financial challenges persist across health care systems, and the operating room is one of the most costly areas to run. Fortunately, there is a clear solution to support patient safety and reduce surgical case cancellations: better supply chain management,” said John Roy, general manager at Cardinal Health Inventory Management Solutions. “We believe streamlining processes and gathering real-time data through automated inventory systems can transform inventory management from a ‘necessary evil’ to a powerful tool that supports better quality of care.”