How GE Integrates a Data-Driven Supply Chain for Perioperative Care

By: Chase Maser

Much like how an efficient supply chain is important for shipping pharmaceuticals, just as much consideration must be made for supplies related to perioperative care. 

GE Healthcare, a subsidiary of General Electric, specializes in several areas of medical imaging, patient diagnostics and monitoring, as well as specific disease areas of neurology, cancer, and heart disease. With that in mind, ensuring that supplies are on-hand at the right time can make all the difference between a patient living or dying. Having the ability to anticipate demand for life-changing equipment is paramount to delivering the best patient care possible. 

So, rather than leaving room for errors, GE emphasises the importance of a data-driven supply chain to ensure success in the operating room. 

Using a Clinically-Integrated Supply Chain to Leverage Data

The main objective for GE was to develop a clinically-integrated supply chain to leverage data in favor of all parties involved. 

For example, the initial response to finding a solution to supply chain issues in the perioperative setting was to compartmentalize OR clinicians and supply chain staff into their own set of responsibilities. Ideally, this was done to ensure that each group could focus on their respective areas of work. However, trying to navigate procedure schedules and inventory data proved unsuccessful since the information wasn't being used holistically to provide insight into anticipatory needs and inventory volumes. 

To combat this disconnect, OR staff and supply chain departments were brought together to create a platform specifically made for forecasting supply among their separate scheduling and inventory metrics. Using a database application from Microsoft Access, the teams created a system of reports that leveraged both scheduling and inventory data from surgical teams and supply inventory management. Reports were separated into several categories, like Main OR Inventory, Same Day Surgery Inventory, and PDC Inventory, and by OR clinicians and supply chain teams following a daily reporting schedule of inventory updates, instances of missing supplies were no longer a challenge. 

Data Leads to Faster Reporting and Better Results

Overall, the development of a joint database between clinicians and supply chain management leads to faster reporting and better patient results. 

The main benchmark for progress involves mitigating inventory shortages. By implementing a daily reporting schedule fulfilled and monitored from each party, certain staff members can relay information to OR clinicians who then can find product replacements or make arrangements with supply teams to deliver tools in a healthy timeframe. In addition, having data insights on-hand allows all parties to recognize data trends and anticipate inventory refill schedules, as well as establish periodic automatic replenishment to maintain inventories and eliminate risks from dangerous inventory levels. 

Other benefits to a data-driven, clinically-integrated supply chain in GE's perioperative setting include...

             Stepping away from legacy practices to embrace automation and more accurate reporting through data

             Less supply hoarding to improve inventory accuracy and supply availability

             Improved fill rates among OR clinicians

             Improved confidence among staff members in regards to day-to-operations and procedures

             Setting a framework for future analytical strategies between clinicians and supply chain teams in other departments

The bottom line is that laying the groundwork for a clinically-integrated, data-driven supply chain should start small. This means beginning with focused areas of clinical teams that need assistance with inventory and accuracy to allow a strategic partnership to evolve with supply chain departments. In the end, progress is made on both fronts, and any supply chain issues or challenges that arise are overcome together. 

The customer experience in medical device supply chains is set to be a hot topic at LogiMed 2019, taking place in March at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, CA.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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