Efficiencies: Get out of the box

Q. How do I cut down on wasted supplies sent to patients?
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Monday, August 28, 2017

A. The issue of wasted supplies has been carefully studied in healthcare, as providers continue to look for ways to cut costs. While the federal government continues to debate the future of the Affordable Care Act, one thing is clear: waste will likely stand out as lawmakers look for funding. The National Academy of Medicine estimates that the U.S. health care system wastes $765 billion a year.

For example, every year, as a home infusion nurse, I know that home infusion companies spend millions of dollars a year on supplies their patients will never use. We send hundreds of dozens of saline flushes at a time, often to patients who already have hundreds on hand.

The key question for you is, how are you monitoring what your patients have on hand? Are you relying on your patients to tell you what they have? Are you automatically sending supplies on a pre-defined schedule? How many staff hours are you spending just trying to get a handle on what your patients need?

As it happens, SaaS solutions are already widely used for inventory management, even in healthcare. It’s clear that technology can do for business what phone calls and the occasional spot check can’t: provide accurate and ongoing data collection.

You could easily implement a digital process in which home visits by clinicians would include accurate inventory counts via company mobile devices, communicating with your office, pharmacy, and billing manager.

This may sound too sophisticated or expensive, but it’s the opposite. Nowadays, it’s the traditional processes that are too expensive to maintain. Paying people to chase down information—using telephones and fax machines—is increasingly becoming unaffordable.

Depending on the services you provide, out-of-the box digital solutions for your problem may already exist.