8 Challenges The Healthcare Supply Chain is Facing Today, And How to Combat Them

Not only does the healthcare supply chain involve monitoring product acquisitions along their path from origin to destination, but many of these supplies can be a matter of life and death. On top of that, managing the medical supply chain is a significant contributor to high healthcare costs.

This is why optimizing the medical supply chain is so important. When healthcare providers procure prescription drugs, medical devices, and other goods through an optimized supply chain, they enjoy lower costs, enhanced revenues, and, most importantly, are able to provide higher quality care. To optimize the supply chain, providers need to address challenges with the following solutions:

1. Overnight Shipping

In the healthcare industry, there is no debate about the necessity of overnight shipping. When emergencies happen, hospitals have a responsibility to address them — no matter the cost. While one or two overnight orders will not have a detrimental impact on a provider’s bottom line, regular overnighters will significantly impact profits.

Aside from emergencies, a major reason for overnight deliveries is stock outs from poor inventory management. Implementing the right software can curb these problems, limiting overnight shipments to emergencies only.

2. Hidden Costs

Another challenge that healthcare providers face is hidden costs. In most situations, buyers just look at the product price and shipping costs, glossing over price variances and quality changes that could result in being overcharged.

That’s where quality healthcare software comes in to create greater transparency so providers can take a more holistic approach to pricing their products, including the costs associated with moving and managing supplies.

3. Drug Shortages

Drug shortages have always been an issue in healthcare but seem to be increasing due to supply chain disruptions. Shortages force providers to either purchase alternatives that are much more expensive, or maintain a backup inventory of at-risk products, resulting in higher costs for inventory management.

Drug supply chain monitoring software can help providers track and plan around long-standing shortages of hundreds of drugs, and avoid getting caught off guard by sudden supply chain disruptions.

4. Data Shortage

One of the biggest struggles of hospital executives is trying to make informed decisions without actionable data, advanced modeling systems, and real-time reports. One reason is that supply chain data is locked away in silos.

Several software solutions can help hospitals improve data visibility to optimize their supply
chain, streamline equipment request processes, and even plan out new construction.

5. Lack Of Integrations

Healthcare consolidation is completely transforming the marketplace through mergers and acquisitions. In spite of this, supply chains remain largely siloed, even in merged organizations, resulting in waste and lost profits.

The right supply chain management software can help providers integrate their supply chains and centralize purchasing channels, helping to realize the full benefits of a merger in the process.

6. Weak Charge Capture

Year after year, poor charge capture is one of the leading causes of revenue leakage for healthcare providers. This can add up to massive profit losses if providers don’t get their bad habits under control.

Automating charge capture can make billing a more uniform process, and even help detect if charges are erroneously excluded or included. Software that specializes in charge capture can help maximize revenue, as well as reduce the chance of costly mistakes from accidentally
overbilling.

7. Physician Preferences

Each physician and healthcare professional has their own preferences in the products they use. Most organizations allow this to be the final say in purchases. Unfortunately, physician preferences are rarely tied to more successful outcomes and can often lead to negative cost variations, cutting into profits and eventually diminishing the quality of patient care.

Software that improves total cost of ownership visibility can help physicians understand the wider impact of their equipment preferences and help them make more holistic decisions. If the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a particular machine costs so much that it could limit the budget for support staff, equipment planners and administrators can easily make the case for a more cost-effective alternative.

8. Poor Workflow Design

Throughout the healthcare supply chain, many processes are unnecessarily duplicated, often
due to disconnects between various organizations and systems that make up the supply chain.

The right software can improve visibility of both data and workflows so that every party stays on the same page and avoids miscommunications. Within these systems, many tasks associated with recordkeeping and data entry can be fully automated, so there’s never a lack of information.

The healthcare supply chain is complex and delicate. So while these challenges can and should be addressed, it will take the right technology to see a difference. Contact one of our experts to learn how Revalize can help.

5 Challenges Biomedical And Clinical Engineers Face Today, And How to Address Them

In addition to providing regular maintenance and equipment
support, hospital biomedical engineers are responsible for
coordinating with equipment manufacturers when problems
arise with their products. The average 300-bed hospital
houses more than $10 million in medical equipment, so this
can be a lofty responsibility. Here are the top five challenges
biomedical engineers face, as well as high-level strategies
to overcome them.

Challenge #1:
Coordinating Service Schedules for Equipment

Government regulators have strict guidelines about how often and who is qualified to monitor, test, calibrate, and maintain medical equipment. These activities must be followed according to manufacturer recommendations, as well as state and federal laws.

Keeping track of the servicing requirements for every piece of equipment can be an overwhelming task, especially if a biomedical engineer is tasked with maintaining equipment across multiple facilities. This task is especially challenging because:

Challenge #2:
Obtaining Manufacturer Support When Problems Arise

Equipment often seems to malfunction at the most inopportune times. While some biomedical engineers have the expertise to diagnose problems and troubleshoot them on the spot, other engineers may lack enough familiarity with equipment to do this effectively. In these cases, engineers must contact the manufacturer for support. This process can prove especially challenging because:

Challenge #3:
Locating Parts to Repair Failing Equipment

Securing replacement parts for failing equipment is a challenge that all biomedical engineers face at some point in their careers. However, poor access to replacement parts is especially difficult for engineers who work in hospitals outside the U.S. that house equipment that is decades old. Supply chain issues and part availability can slow down procurement, or even make it impossible. Healthcare providers may be forced to replace equipment, even if it’s not
within their budget.

Challenge #4:
Segregating Accessories for Different Equipment Makes and Models

Life for biomedical engineers would be simpler if manufacturers just designed products
universally compatible with accessories. Unfortunately, many equipment manufacturers design products that will only accept proprietary parts. As a result, hospital biomeds must maintain a segregated collection of accessories and parts for every style of monitor, anesthesia machine and table. Here are a few examples of this type of barrier:

Challenge #5:
Convincing Clinical Staff and Stakeholders That Equipment Should be Replaced

Convincing stakeholders that capital equipment needs replacing can be a major challenge unless the cost to repair a piece of equipment exceeds the costs to replace it. In most cases, biomedical engineers must prove that a piece of equipment is no longer safe, effective, or functional. In other instances, hospitals do not have the budget to replace equipment and biomedical engineers must shoulder the burden of sourcing parts that are nearly impossible to
find.

How Can Healthcare Systems Address
These Challenges?

Responding to the demands biomedical engineers face requires careful analysis and planning on the part of hospital officials. Fortunately, the challenges outlined above are not insurmountable. By developing a clear strategy to procure and maintain equipment, hospitals can eliminate or minimize these challenges. Here are three strategies to help hospitals reduce the demands on hospital biomeds.

1) Streamline Medical Equipment and Technology Throughout the Hospital System

Purchasing medical equipment manufactured by the same company is an effective way to address the four challenges outlined above. Procuring equipment from a smaller group of key manufacturers makes it faster and easier for hospital biomeds to schedule service visits, secure replacement parts, and obtain technical support. With a smaller number of manufacturers to collaborate with, biomedical engineers are also able to establish solid relationships with technical support specialists affiliated with those manufacturers.

2) Seek the Services of a Professional Refurbishing Company

This strategy is especially helpful for hospital biomeds outside the U.S. who must repair and restore medical equipment that was manufactured years ago. For instance, biomeds in South America, Asia, and Africa are increasingly turning to companies that offer refurbished medical equipment to obtain parts and support that are desperately needed to maintain aging equipment. Refurbishing companies can also help biomedical engineers save money by offering a trade-in allowance on used equipment that is no longer needed.

3) Enlist the Support of an Equipment Maintenance Partner

The best way to organize medical equipment is with the guidance of a professional medical equipment planning partner. An expert can help you streamline your procurement and organize your purchases. They can also help you manage your equipment inventory, enabling hospital staff to focus on improving quality of care and utilization management.

The Bottom Line

Maintaining medical equipment involves scheduling service visits, collaborating with manufacturers, securing hard-to-find replacement parts, and convincing decision-makers that equipment needs to be replaced. Fortunately, hospitals can minimize the demands on biomedical engineers by streamlining procurement and turning to industry experts to generate cost-effective equipment planning solutions.

Revalize is a leading technology partner that can optimize your hospital resources and help you develop a customized approach to procurement that will minimize the challenges facing your biomedical engineers. Contact our experts to learn more.

Case Study
University of Iowa

LOCATION: Iowa City, Iowa

SIZE: 245-bed  hospitals

University of Iowa Leverages the Power of Attainia’s Customizable Reports and Easy Access to Historical Project Data

THE PROJECT

The University of Iowa capital management department’s medical equipment team manages the budgeting, planning and procurement of all new construction projects for the University of Iowa’s hospitals and clinics. Projects range from as small as a new shower room to an entire new campus facility, and everything in between. The team manages projects both in-house and with the help of external planning firms.

“Owning your own data – and being able to access all of your historical project data – is extremely important”

– Trish Moyer

Senior Project Manager

THE PRODUCT

The team leverages Attainia’s medical equipment planning platform to streamline
and accelerate their planning. With pre-built room templates, an industry-leading medical equipment catalog and a collaborative interface, Attainia’s platform helps plan medical equipment up to 75% faster than with spreadsheets and manual processes. 

When working with external planning firms, the university requires the planners to work in Attainia – and grants them access to work within the university’s projects in the platform. This provides immediate project visibility to all team members, and ensures the university’s project data is stored in a centralized location for all active and historical projects.

KEY BENEFITS

A key advantage of the Attainia platform is the unmatched ability to access, format and leverage project data, says Trish Moyer, senior project manager for medical equipment.

“I used to plan medical equipment in spreadsheets, and it was just impossible to filter and export the data in an easy and meaningful way,” she said. “Imagine exporting an equipment list for an entire hospital – it would cover the wall of a house! With Attainia, you can filter and export exactly what you need.” 

“I have so many users – clinicians, finance people, you name it – and they all are interested in very different data. Being able to easily create a variety of reports tailored to the exact audiences I’m working with is extremely important.” 

With access to all active and historical project data at her fingertips, Moyer says that she constantly leverages the platform to answer questions during a project and long after its completion, such as:

  • Did we receive a piece of equipment? “If someone tells me weeks later they didn’t receive something, I can quickly log into Attainia and verify that it was delivered because I save the packing slips in the platform.”
  • Was a piece of equipment already specified? What model was specified? Will that work for the clinician? Is that OK for the budget? “I get these questions constantly from a variety of people during the course of a project,” Moyer says, “and because we manage our data in Attainia, I can provide this
    information in an instant rather than having to reach out to our external
    equipment planners and wait for a response.”
  • If piece of equipment breaks down long after the project is complete: how long is the warranty on that equipment?

“We just sent out an RFP for a new project, and one of our criteria is that the firm would build the project in Attainia,” Moyer says. “Keeping our data in Attainia is an integral part of our process.”

“With Attainia, you can filter and export the exact information you need for each audience during your planning process,”

– Trish Moyer

Senior Project Manager

Plan
Smarter

by leveraging historical data to build budgets and make decisions

Streamline communication

with internal stakeholders and external lanners

Instant
access

to all project data anytime, anywhere

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Case Study
Intermountain Healthcare

LOCATION: Salt Lake City, UT

SIZE: 24 hospitals

THE CHALLENGE

Intermountain’s expansive network of hospitals and clinics made equipment planning an expensive and time-consuming task. Specific pain points included:

  • Limited resources dedicated to equipment planning
  • The time-consuming nature of hunting down product specification sheets, generating reports, and manually identifying contract and buy opportunities.
  • Managing several dozen projects in flight at any one time.

THE SOLUTION

lntermountain implemented Attainia’s planning platform, a collaborative, cloud-based software for medical equipment planning. With 1,400 room templates, Attainia enables organizations to collaborate on equipment lists for all project types.

 
In addition, Attainia is supported by an industry-leading catalog of more than 66,000 products from 3,500 suppliers. This drastically cuts down on the time needed to track down product specification sheets.

 
Because the platform identifies capital contract and catalog items, lntermountain is able to save time and maximize savings opportunities through greater contract compliance and standardization.

THE OUTCOME

lntermountain has used Attainia on dozens of projects, from small room changes to multi-million dollar construction projects, and has saved thousands of dollars and man hours in the process.
By using Attainia’s room templates, the team improved initial budgeting accuracy and reduced time in creating initial construction docs. lntermountain also developed several of their own templates that they share and replicate. They have been able to complete more projects in house with the same number of full-time employees.

“With tools like this, we now have the power. Every time we start a project, we are not recreating the wheel. It ultimately makes you better at your job.”

– Steven Isakson

Equipment Planner at lntermountain

SAVED

Thousands of man hours and even more dollars during the equipment planning process

IMPROVED

Initial budgeting accuracy for new projects

REDUCED

Time in creating initial construction documents

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Case Study
PennState Health

LOCATION: Central PA

SIZE: Multi-hospital system with 3,000 + physicians

Penn State Health Achieves Efficiency and Accuracy in Equipment Planning with Attainia’s Customizable Reports and Collaborative Platform

THE PROJECTS

The Penn State Health equipment planning division is a two-person, in-house team that plans projects including both non-acute and acute care areas for new construction and renovation projects. Recent projects include several new community clinic spaces, two new multi-specialty clinics including their backfills, and a large inpatient renovation that leveraged the help of external equipment planning consultants.

“With Attainia’s customizable reports, we can produce the exact documents we need during each stage of the design, construction and procurement process”

– Melissa Mercado

Equipment Planner

THE PRODUCT

Penn State Health leverages Attainia’s medical equipment planning platform to streamline their planning process. With reusable room templates, the industryleading medical equipment catalog and a collaborative interface, the platform helps plan medical equipment up to 75% faster than with spreadsheets.For projects managed by an external equipment planning f irm, the Penn State Health equipment planning team uses guest access to view their real-time project data. This ensures an eff icient and streamlined planning process and instant access to project details − even when working with external planners.

KEY BENEFITS

Melissa Mercado, equipment planner at Penn State Health, outlines a few of the key benefits Attainia brings to the organization.

  • Streamlining the equipment planning process. “Attainia has helped us formalize and drive our planning process,” Mercado says. “Our stakeholders have come to expect that the process will include an equipment list, a schematic design document with technical equipment needs, and several equipment reviews and budget estimates throughout the stages of design. Attainia powers all of this. With Attainia’s customizable reports, we can produce the exact documents we need for each audience for each step of the way to help drive the planning process.”
  • Better budgeting. “All of our equipment quotes are recorded in Attainia,” Mercado says, “so we can use that historical repository to create better initial budgets and adjust budgets during the project. For instance, if construction is going over budget, we can tell the team exactly how much we need to spend on equipment – and then the team can decide whether to start spending against the contingency budget.”
  • Managing change requests. “With the technical documentation we can provide via Attainia reports, it’s easier to show the full impact of a change,” Mercado says. “If a clinician requests to change the acuity of a procedure room, we can quickly show them the financial impacts to the equipment budget, and also walk them through any additional support spaces needed. Attainia really helps us drive these conversations and show the downstream effects and costs.”

“We’ve just finished construction documents for a 38,000-square-foot pediatric clinic,” Mercado says. “We worked closely with the architects and the construction team to make sure it was planned perfectly and to meet an aggressive timeline. We used Attainia’s tools to support us through the entire Equipment planning process.”

Build better
budget

by leveraging historical data to improve accuracy

Streamline communication

with internal stakeholders and external planners

Present the right data to the right audience

with customizable reports

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