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How health systems can achieve non-acute success

Managing the non-acute care continuum is no easy feat. With so many different care settings, supply chain management across your health system can feel complicated. Different settings have different requirements. They’re located in different areas. And they operate separately from one another. So how can supply chain leaders streamline functions to deliver better care, lower costs and make processes more efficient?

With some careful planning, you can achieve all of these goals. Here are 10 strategic ways to achieve non-acute success in your health system.

1 | Re-think operational expenses

Take a look at your current operational model. Can it meet the specific needs of each care setting? In non-acute settings, it’s not a one-size-fits-all model. But whatever the needs of your care settings, your supply chain should help you lower operational expenses while improving staff productivity.

Look at the number of suppliers throughout your care sites. For example, if you’re using too many different vendors, you could miss out on cost saving opportunities. It could also create sluggish processes. This is because there may be more time and labor involved in handling multiple deliveries. Consider ways to increase efficiencies across operations while using fewer vendors.

2 | Analyze ordering trends  

You can’t improve supply chain processes if you aren’t aware of your current processes and trends. The tricky part is that non-acute sites often use different technology systems from one another. A supply chain solutions partner can help you bridge those gaps. They can take data from different systems and turn it into a complete picture to help you make more informed decisions.

Collect data on important factors like usage rates for frequently ordered supplies and products that similar facilities order. This can help you predict and automate future orders more efficiently. In turn, this saves money and takes staff off of inventory management.

3 | Automate processes

When looking at your current supply chain processes, how many of them require manual labor? Automation can help you streamline time-intensive tasks across your non-acute supply chain. This can help your health system achieve goals such as:

  • Formulary compliance

  • Improved efficiency

  • Software integration

Automating tasks can also help you keep costs down and improve the quality of care across your health system. How? When you switch from manual labor to automation, you give more time back to clinicians to spend on patient care.

4 | Manage costs strategically

Look at how you currently make purchasing decisions. It is based on GPO compliance or cost? How are you using aggregated volume to negotiate vendor contracts? Negotiating a great contract is just the beginning of cost management. There are several steps to take to lower costs:

  • Get access to the right data. With the right data, you can match product ordering to usage. This allows you to standardize products across your care sites. This leads to better leverage with suppliers when it’s time to negotiate.

  • Factor in costs for late, inaccurate or damaged deliveries. Some health systems focus on getting the lowest price, but things like delivery or storage problems can affect your bottom line. As you consider the total cost of your operations, factor in these costs.

  • Align stakeholders. Get stakeholders to agree to a project plan. Having an experienced partner solely focused on non-acute can help you spot cost-sourcing opportunities.

5 | Use greater visibility to deliver better care

Greater visibility into your non-acute settings can help you deliver more consistent care across each site. That visibility starts with an integrated technology system that gives you access to the right data. This data can help you drive clinical decisions both across your health system and at each care setting.

For example, you can learn which products you can standardize to reduce clinical variation. When you identify an opportunity like that, your health system delivers better care across the board. This is because there are fewer discrepancies in the quality of care from one setting to the next. Patient outcomes improve, and you can also contain costs.

6 | Standardize products and processes

Each non-acute setting is inherently different, but there’s still room for standardization. If you want to improve supply chain processes across your health system, standardization should happen across all product lines. This includes:

  • Medical-surgical supplies

  • Pharmaceuticals

  • Equipment

  • Laboratory equipment & supplies

You can also standardize countless supply chain processes, from ordering to inventory management.

7 | Focus on post-acute care

It sounds counter-intuitive, but you can’t forget post-acute care when considering your non-acute strategy. Reducing hospital readmissions is a goal across the entire healthcare industry. And to do that, you need to consider your post-acute supply chain processes. Are they designed for efficiency and quality of care? Post-acute supplies should be delivered directly to clinicians or patients at the point of care. This includes home health settings. If they are not, clinicians could waste valuable time chasing down supplies. Patients also might not have the proper supplies to care for themselves at home. This could increase their chances of hospital readmission.

8 | Maximize your lab strategy

How integrated are your health system’s supply chain and lab functions? Ideally, they should work together to improve revenue and patient outcomes. You can make your lab strategy work harder for your health system by adopting lab solutions such as:

  • Point-of-care testing

  • A comprehensive data and analytics strategy

  • Cutting-edge technology

These solutions can help lab clinicians achieve best practices such as standardization and SKU optimization. When you work to streamline your lab strategy, everything runs more efficiently.

9 | Follow pharmaceutical regulations

To stay efficient and compliant, non-acute clinicians must meet formulary and regulatory requirements for ordering, managing and dispensing drugs. This also applies to how they dispose of unused drugs.

When you consolidate suppliers and standardize more products, you can help clinicians meet these requirements more easily. It boosts efficiency and also the quality of care.

Each of your non-acute care sites also needs the right drug at the right time to properly treat each patient. Having a pharmaceutical supply strategy–and distribution partner–can help you streamline your inventory. A more streamlined system means fewer invoices, fewer deliveries and increased compliance in electronic ordering. This can help you lower administrative costs and overhead while maintaining the highest level of safety and patient care.

10 | Obtain stakeholder buy-in

One of the biggest challenges to making these changes might be getting buy-in from stakeholders across your care continuum. You need process planning, project management and stakeholder alignment to get the ball rolling. One way to start is by seeking out an experienced non-acute specialist. Their specialized resources and assessments–of operations, process automation, standardization and more–can help your team make more informed decisions.

When you find ways to streamline supply chain processes across your non-acute care settings, your whole health system benefits. From better cost management to improved patient care, making process changes pertaining to automation, standardization and more can benefit everyone.