ORLANDO, Fla., May 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Healthcare spend on implantable devices is estimated at $40 billion a year and affords the industry a large-scale opportunity for cost savings to invest back into patient care, reported a panel of industry leaders at the 2012 GHX Healthcare Supply Chain Summit in Orlando this week.
The panel moderated by Dr. Jeffrey Gruen, partner at PRTM Management Consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers, included both healthcare providers (Nancy LeMaster, vice president Supply Chain Operations, BJC HealthCare; Dale Locklair, vice president of Procurement and Construction, McLeod Health) and suppliers (Brett Knickerbocker, worldwide director, Operations-Supply Chain Systems, DePuy Division of Johnson & Johnson; Larry Strauss, vice president of Supply Chain Engineering & Transportation, Boston Scientific Corp.) in order to discuss issues and approaches to tackling the inefficiency and waste inherent in the current state of the implantable device supply chain.
"We need to take the cost and waste out of healthcare and we need to do it whether the government says to do it or not," said Dale Locklair. All panel participants conceded that changes in healthcare will proceed whether the U.S. Healthcare Reform Act remains intact after the Supreme Court review. But in the case of the implantable device market, it requires massive change management for the existing processes to be recalibrated. "It requires both providers and suppliers to accomplish these changes," added Larry Strauss.
The management of implantable devices is a significantly manual process at most hospitals today. "The hidden costs really add up exponentially when you think of the impact on the process and the fact that the implantables are often related to the most invasive procedures that we do," said Nancy LeMaster.
"From a patient perspective, the idea that we are tracking implantables manually is just unthinkable," she added. "In this highly technical medical field, when we are doing these very invasive and amazing procedures that are saving lives, it must become a priority that we fully automate these systems. It's critical from every angle that as an industry we adopt new approaches. Certainly there are efficiency and cost reduction improvements, but most importantly, it's about the patient care benefits."
Standard approaches, consistent with how other industries have embraced data standards, are needed for healthcare, said the panelists. "Process standards remove the finger pointing between people," said Dale Locklair. "It's becomes a process failure, not a people failure, and it allows us to focus on the work that is worthwhile – quality patient care – versus finger pointing. Our work is about removing burdensome and wasteful work from the system. When you look at the manual processes we have, they give us nothing but problems. We need to take what is wasteful out of the system and put it back in the system to do something meaningful and beneficial. The focus can return to patient outcomes versus broken processes."
Nancy LeMaster added, "We have an obligation to be here 100 years from now to continue to provide care to the community. At the cost that we're providing it today, it's unsustainable. Every dollar wasted is a dollar of care we can't provide. It's an environment where we have to work together."
"You can have the data, you can have the systems, but you've got to have the trust," said Larry Strauss. "If you trust the data, and the systems themselves, then you can drive off of that and that's what's going to allow us to take costs out and ultimately improve patient care. It's about having a system we can all trust in."
GHX announced in February 2012 that the company is developing the industry's first comprehensive supply chain solution for physician preference items (PPI) and implantable medical devices. The GHX implantable device supply chain solution will be an industry solution that allows providers and manufacturers to jointly automate shared business processes for greater efficiencies. The GHX solution will capture data from product purchase to product usage at the point of care, creating capture capability while enabling accurate billing, purchasing and inventory tracking.
Global Healthcare Exchange, LLC (GHX), a healthcare technology and services company, helps reduce the cost of doing business in healthcare by enabling better supply chain management. GHX makes it easier for hospitals, other healthcare providers and the suppliers that do business with them to drive cost and inefficiency out of their processes. Working with GHX, the healthcare organizations that make up the GHX Global Network are on track to save $5 billion by 2014 – savings that can be invested in such things as hiring more nurses, providing care to uninsured children or developing new medical products. GHX is owned by organizations on both the buy and sell side of the healthcare supply chain, including some of the largest companies in the world. Find GHX on the Web, on Twitter @GHX_LLC and on Facebook @GHX.