Why Well-Run Hospitals Need Tailored Technology to Care for Patients, Business

healthcare

For hospital systems big or small, caring for patients comes first, and to do that, even their administrative departments must focus on patients. So, basic operational practices like procurement and supply chain management also require a healthcare focus to meet the demands of the hospital business and caring for people.

Just as the generic procurement processes of a manufacturer or retail business won’t meet the needs of hospital supply chain managers, so too must an organization’s supporting procurement software be tailored for hospitals, which have distinct needs not found in other industry verticals. Typical procure-to-pay systems, for example, would focus on areas like “direct spend” and “indirect spend,” but those topics and others are foreign to hospitals, which think in terms of clinical spend and non-clinical spend.

Such is the case with BJC HealthCare. As one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health systems, BJC HealthCare needs to provide consistent, high-quality patient care across all of its hospitals while maintaining operational efficiency. When the St. Louis, Missouri-based healthcare provider began its search to upgrade how it supplies its facilities, it found the healthcare marketplace provider Prodigo Solutions, which knows what hospitals of all sizes need because it provides online shopping and other services to more than half of the top 15 hospitals in the U.S.

In fact, Prodigo handles healthcare clients exclusively.

Its marketplace solution is purpose-built for caregivers wherever they work in hospital systems — like labs, clinics or satellite offices.

Today, BJC uses ProdigoMarketplace to requisition a range of medical items that have been negotiated for price and vetted for compliance. To understand how the Marketplace helps, the staff at BJC answered some questions about working with Prodigo.

Spend Matters: In healthcare, the supply chain to get products into facilities must address a lot of regulations as well as the typical issues of pricing, sourcing and contracting. How does the Prodigo system help with that?

BJC: The Marketplace provides a robust search engine and a platform that our requisitioners could quickly and easily trust.

And special request functionality was a major improvement. Another major benefit was that users no longer had the ability to add specials as favorites within the marketplace. This helped to cut down on copying in old information that would cause data inconsistencies and pricing errors downstream.

Did BJC notice any cost savings once the new Marketplace was implemented?

Part of the decision to have a program like Prodigo was to try and minimize our off-formulary (special request) spend. This greatly increases efficiencies and helped to decrease total cost of goods. In the first month after full rollout, we saw a 5% reduction in special request spend.

How did staff members react to using a new system?

User were simply happy to have an application that actually worked, was easy to use and provided a higher level of information than they previously had.

From the end-user perspective they loved the shopping experience. The data results were displayed much faster — and with more information. The ability to see images was a great advantage when applicable. The special request function to search our item data base was very beneficial, and we received a lot of comments of gratitude regarding the ease of use and time savings.

From a business perspective, all requisitioners were required to attend formal training, which consisted of purchasing policy and hands-on application usage. This formal training program continues to this day for all new requisitions and must be completed before they get access to the system.

What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered during the various implementation phases? If you could go back and do it again, what would you change?

We really didn’t encounter any setup challenges. All phases of the implementation were completed on time. We hit our target date for a soft go-live and actually started the full, phased rollout a week early. Our go-live plan was spread across three months, which consisted of two facilities going live each month. The rollout consisted of formal training of users on how to use the new marketplace and purchasing policy.

We did encounter some business-related challenges that were not related to the implementation.

There was no push to add in the vendor-hosted catalogs in the beginning.

The decision was also made to load all item master items regardless of status to the Marketplace. This caused some confusion and distrust of the item data as the term “discontinued” within Prodigo could represent items that were inactive or turned off by business decision.

How close are you to your desired end state? Can you give an example of how your processes run today and why that's better than how they used to be done?

As of early 2018, we hit our end state, and all functionality of the Marketplace is now in use.

In the past, all items were required to be defined to the item master. With the Marketplace, we now have the option of using a vendor-hosted catalog that we control and authorize, thus eliminating the need to define items to the item master. The only new items being defined to the item master are those that the organization wants to track or are managed via a storeroom or par location, or have a requirement in a downstream application like EPIC.

If you could give advice to a hospital considering or beginning to embark on a similar project, what would it be?

There needs to be a small group in place from the beginning who has decision-making ability — and a deep understanding of the overall goals.

Implementation does not require a large staff. This can easily be completed with a few key people. Key to the implementation is to have someone with a deep understanding of the item master.

Do you have any other experiences that someone in a similar situation would find helpful or interesting?

Make sure that your language is precise and that all users are aware of it. Make sure that you take the time to weight items appropriately to drive the behavior that you want. Utilize hosted catalogs from the beginning. Be specific in your item master selection criteria and do not load your inactive and discontinued items from your item master. Make better use of item comments to help with communication about the item to the end user.

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