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Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

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“Don’t sweat the small stuff” or so the saying goes. Well, I’m here to tell you that sometimes you should. In these tumultuous times in healthcare, hospitals are tasked with spending less, while providing more. This is a big undertaking, so it’s no wonder why Value Analysis and Supply Chain teams typically want to focus on the big projects, such as implants and CRM devices first.  However, you need heavy clinical involvement and buy-in to really have success with these projects. How do you get that? How do you start that conversation with clinicians? How do you help them see you are not only concerned with the bottom line (a common mis-conception), but that you also understand that excellent patient care is the top priority? I work with many hospitals and IDN’s trying to answer these questions and I have found that this is where the “small stuff” can really help.

At Blue.Point we bring a completely new perspective to Supply Chain and Value Analysis. Our goal is to help start that conversation with clinicians on not only the big items, but the small ones as well. Think about this… If you had to embark on a savings project for your hospital and your options were Internal Staplers or Disinfecting Wipes, which would you choose? If you were like most hospitals, you’d probably choose the first for the obvious reason that internal staplers cost about $250 each while disinfecting wipes cost about $0.03 each. However, you’d be missing a huge opportunity because a lot of hospitals spend the same amount of money a year in those two categories. And there’s huge variability opportunity in disinfectant wipes – so even if you’re spending less per year than in internal staplers, your savings could be greater (and easier to get at). In addition, disinfectant wipe practices affect EVERYONE that comes into your facility – not just those getting a specific surgery. This means the conversation includes more people. That is a good thing. Working on an initial project about something that seems so non-threatening (unlike an internal stapler) gives all those involved exposure to the process. New relationships are formed that create a foundation for bigger projects in the future. This is why these “small”, quick projects can’t be ignored. They not only add up in savings but they also provide a catalyst to create change. These projects can he used to kick start the bigger ones. Change the conversation from “what is the best price point and conversion opportunity” to “what is best practice”? From there, “how can we align our products to support that” and “how do we know if best practice is being followed everywhere”?

In addition to high cost product categories, Blue.Point analyzes commonly overlooked items such as instant hot packs, nasal cannulas, cohesive bandages, and more because our clients can use these small wins to begin bridging the gap between supply chain professionals and clinicians more easily. We’ve had hospitals save $53,000 on adhesive remover, $54,000 on nasal cannulas, and $100,000 on disinfectant wipes! These are great wins, but it was more than the savings that made them great. They actually helped evolve processes within those health systems. The clinicians are now talking to each other and Value Analysis teams about which nasal cannulas they need to prevent Healthcare Acquired Pressure Ulcers. The lab is discussing which patients need a cohesive dressing after a lab draw and which ones really don’t. Committees are reviewing hot pack usage for pain relief, who should get them, what are the outcomes, and what size hot pack is necessary.

As a nurse myself, I believe these conversations are more important than the savings dollars, and so powerful. They are transforming the focus of value analysis team! Assuming that best practice is being followed because it is written in a Policy and Procedures manual will get us nowhere in the fight to provide more value in healthcare. We need to be constantly aware of what is happening, and we need tools to help us identify where we can improve.

So I say – “sweat the small stuff”. Use it as your opportunity to change the conversation. Allow those small items to help build momentum and open doors to big projects and improvements. The savings will come.

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