By , Chief Marketing Officer

4 Minute Read – Supplies follow a long pathway through the hospital, from the warehouse to the clinical care team. As a critical end user, nurses have unique visibility into supply chain inefficiencies and problems. This is one of many reasons it’s so critical for hospital leaders to incorporate nurses’ input before embarking on a supply chain improvement initiative. Nurses can reveal key supply chain vulnerabilities and weaknesses that other hospital staff members don’t see.

During a recent panel discussion with the American Hospital Association, Deena Carney, RN, BSN, MHA, CNOR, Director of Surgical Services at Good Samaritan Medical Center; Ariam Yitbarek, MS, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, Vice President of Nursing Operations at MedStar Washington Hospital Center; and Lee Smith, RNFA, BSN, MBA, Vice President of Clinical Solutions at Syft, discussed how hospitals can create a more nurse-centric supply chain. One of the top solutions our panelists all agreed on? Obtaining nurse input and buy-in for supply chain improvement initiatives.

Here are a few of the biggest takeaways from their conversation.

Involve nurses in supply chain decision-making

Well-before embarking on a supply chain improvement initiative, hospitals should seek out input from frontline nurses and nurse leaders. This will help ensure hospital leaders better understand how changes to supply chain processes can complement and enhance nurses’ workflows, rather than hinder them.

“Including nurses early in the decision-making process is critical in any supply chain project, but particularly useful when implementing new technology or making technology enhancements,” said Lee. “Hospitals should have nurses involved in RFP planning committees, implementation committees, training committees, and ongoing improvement and quality assurance committees.”

At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, which is in the midst of a supply chain optimization initiative, Ariam said the process has benefited greatly from a steering committee of nurses. “This group has participated in every decision point, from how to categorize supplies to what the appropriate terminology for a supply should be in the documentation system,” she explained. “We also have unit champions that go to their units, gather feedback, and share it with the steering group.”

Communicate early and often to nurses

Nurse leaders, supply chain leaders, and hospital leaders should communicate openly with the nursing team about any upcoming supply chain workflow and documentation changes. They should also explain the reasons behind the changes, and share how the changes will benefit nurses and patient care.

This will give nurses insight and time to prepare for what’s coming, and it will make them feel heard—both of which will lead to more nurse buy-in with the project, said Ariam. “Engaging nurses and communicating with them about the plan is extremely important. We regularly inform our staff and communicate about the plan, and started doing this months in advance of making changes.”

Survey nurses on their supply chain challenges and needs

As noted, nurses have a unique vantage point when it comes to identifying supply chain problems. Prior to making supply chain changes, and then on an ongoing basis, hospitals should periodically survey both their frontline nurses and their nursing leaders about supply chain processes.

These surveys can help hospital and supply chain leaders learn:

Nurses will appreciate the chance to weigh in by participating in the survey, and hospital leaders will benefit from uncovering hidden supply chain problems.

Identify unit champions to ensure continuous improvement

Once your hospital has completed a supply chain improvement initiative, it’s important to implement safeguards to ensure problems and inefficiencies for nurses are quickly identified on an ongoing basis. While annual surveys of nurses can help, hospitals should also form a council of frontline nurses and nurse leaders that regularly shares feedback with hospital leaders and supply chain leaders.

“The supply chain is not a one-discipline responsibility—it applies to every discipline,” Ariam said. “It touches clinicians, supply teams, vendors, and many others. Optimizing the supply chain requires a true partnership and collaborative effort.”

  1. 1. Attendee poll during AHA Webinar: The Nurse’s Take: How to Improve Hospital Supply Chain Management

Whitney St. Pierre Chief Marketing Officer

Whitney St. Pierre has nearly 20 years’ experience fulfilling various marketing leadership roles in the technology industry. In her current role as Chief Marketing Officer, Whitney has oversight of all aspects of marketing including strategy, branding, product marketing, sales enablement, and communications to name a few.

Prior to joining Syft, Whitney was the Director of Marketing for Extension Healthcare. During her 8 years there, she was instrumental in a major rebranding initiative that helped to propel the company’s growth. Having become the leader in the clinical communication and collaboration market, Extension Healthcare was acquired by Vocera Communications in 2016.

Whitney earned a BS from Auburn University in 2001 with a concentration on business and marketing. She now lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and two children and is an accomplished artist.

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By , Chief Nursing Officer

4 Minute Read – As the conduit between patients and care, nurses have many critical responsibilities. One of the many tasks in a nurse’s day is properly documenting supplies, however, for many nurses, this is laborious and time consuming. In fact, a recent survey of 100 hospital nurses and frontline leaders found that more than 85% have difficulty documenting supplies used during procedures.

During a recent panel discussion with the American Hospital Association, I joined two other nurse leaders, Deena Carney, RN, BSN, MHA, CNOR, Director of Surgical Services at Good Samaritan Medical Center, and Ariam Yitbarek, MS, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, Vice President of Nursing Operations at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, to discuss the top supply chain documentation challenges nurses face. We also shared some of the ways hospitals can address these problems and improve collaboration between clinical and supply chain teams.

Communication disconnects: A key contributor to documentation challenges

One of the biggest reasons nurses struggle with supply documentation, as well as inefficient supply chain workflows in general, relates to poor communication and a lack of collaboration between clinical and supply chain teams. For example, Deena, Ariam, and I all noted how inconsistent supply chain terminology creates significant challenges for nurses.

“In the materials and purchasing departments, they refer to supplies by their reference number or manufacturer’s description, while nurses call the supply what it is, such as an embolectomy catheter or a foley catheter,” said Deena. “It’s definitely a different language, and that’s very frustrating for everyone.”

This inconsistent nomenclature also makes it difficult for nurses to quickly identify supplies in hospitals’ documentation systems, such as in an EHR dropdown. Finding the correct supply can be so time consuming that nurses sometimes give up on electronically documenting it altogether and manually write the supply down instead, in hopes that someone else will properly document it later. This leads to many supplies not being documented at all, or being documented inaccurately.

Collaboration is key: How it helps and how to achieve it

Improving collaboration between clinical and supply chain teams can lead to significant documentation and workflow improvements for nurses. Deena has seen the benefits firsthand at Good Samaritan, where nurses and supply chain teams are working to improve communication and determine more consistent terminology.

MedStar Washington Hospital Center is employing a similar approach, and for the past few years, has invited supply chain team members to attend nurses’ daily 15-minute morning huddles, said Ariam. “If there are any supply issues, we discuss them during the huddles,” she noted. “This also gives the supply chain teams more of a direct line of sight into patients, so they better understand how their responsibilities impact patient care.”

Technology’s growing role: More accurate and efficient documentation

Technology can also play a significant role in improving nurses’ documentation processes and workflows. For example, some hospitals, like MedStar Washington Hospital Center, are implementing point-of-use tools like barcode and RFID scanning to enable nurses to document supplies simply by scanning them. Rather than having to find and enter the documentation into an EHR (for example, via a dropdown), the scanned item is automatically documented in the EHR and ERP.

And, for hospitals that still rely on their EHR as their sole inventory management system, it’s time to consider a different approach. As I noted during the panel, EHRs were never really intended to be an inventory management system, and as a result, the documentation workflows aren’t as streamlined. An inventory management system that sits between the purchasing/procurement system and the EHR improves workflows for both nurses and supply chain teams.

More and more nurses are calling for these technology improvements. In the aforementioned survey, 65% of nurses said their current supply documentation system is too time consuming, 39% said it is missing useful features, and 20% said it is difficult to use. And, when the nurses were asked to identify the features that would most benefit them, the most common responses included barcode and RFID scanning and EHR integration.

It’s critical for hospitals to step in and provide nurses with better resources to improve their supply chain documentation processes and workflows, said Ariam. “Nurses face long shifts in emotionally draining encounters with patients and family members and multiple other responsibilities. When they don’t have good supply chain management tools and resources to help them complete some of the administrative tasks, it takes a significant toll.”

Lee Smith DHA, MBA, BSN, RNFA Chief Nursing Officer

As the CNO at Syft, Lee is responsible for guiding customers through their implementations of Syft Synergy point-of-use (POU) and analytics solutions to drive efficiencies and expense reductions throughout the perioperative environment. With an extensive clinical background, Lee is instrumental in helping hospital clinical leadership and front-line users understand how to best optimize their Syft Synergy technology investments, improve processes and metrics across the perioperative continuum, and use data insights to improve the performance of operating rooms. Lee has more than 35 years of experience in health care, including 21 years in supply chain and information technology. She has held leadership positions in hospitals as well as other health care organizations such as Cardinal Health, CareFusion, and BD. She holds a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration, a Master of Science in Business Administration, and Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing.

Download Market Report Nurses: The Secret Factor for Better Supply Chains
By , Syft Chief Technology Officer

3 Critical Attributes for Hospitals

4 Minute Read – Hospitals across the country are evaluating their options when it comes to transitioning to a Cloud-based supply chain management solution. From an infrastructure and resource-optimization perspective, the advantages of the cloud over on-premise solutions are clear. Key benefits include flexibility and scale, enhanced security, automated software updates, and peace of mind that your hospital can continue operations in the event of an on-premise outage or other IT disruption.

While cloud-based supply chain management has significant benefits, hospitals and health systems making the transition must ensure they have a supply chain management optimization partner that seamlessly integrates with, and enhances, their cloud-based approach. If not, their unique needs and objectives as a hospital or health system are unlikely to be met, and they are unlikely to experience the full benefits of a cloud transition. Here are the top three attributes to look for in a supply chain management partner that can complement your move to the cloud:

Attribute #1. An experienced, healthcare-exclusive provider and platform

You wouldn’t go to a podiatrist to treat your migraines or an ophthalmologist to treat your hip pain. When selecting a cloud-based supply chain management solution, seek out a partner that knows healthcare. Syft has worked exclusively with hospitals and health systems for more than 20 years. In fact, we are the first application ecosystem vendor to be Oracle-Cloud certified that is 100 percent healthcare-exclusive. That extensive experience enables us to build our solution based on a solid understanding of hospitals’ needs.

One example? Consider our PAR location management solution. While solutions that aren’t exclusively focused on healthcare approach PAR inventory management in a transactional way, we take the transaction a step further with analytic insights. For hospitals with multiple PAR locations, we help identify where PAR optimization efforts should be focused such as a PAR location with frequent stock outs or fast-moving supplies—drilling down to the location level and item level–and then share recommendations regarding the best next steps.

Attribute #2. A solution that includes workflow-enhancing tools for supply chain teams and clinicians

Supply chain technologies are often designed for supply chain teams, but nurses and other clinical staff also need tools to quickly track and document inventory. Syft’s intuitive platform enables dock-to-doc supply chain optimization, and makes it easy for warehouse, supply chain, and clinical teams to incorporate the platform into their workstreams.

One of Syft’s biggest advantages is that it provides point-of-use supply chain management tools that automate supply-related processes for clinical staff through integrated barcode and RFID scanning technology. This leads to greater efficiency and higher margins in high value, high volume procedural areas.

Attribute #3. Solutions that incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)

A supply chain management solution should foster continued improvement over time through AI and ML technologies. Syft’s dashboards and analytics provide real-time business intelligence insights that drive inventory and process optimization in all areas, including procedural and surgical settings.

With the right solution, hospitals can use supply chain analytics for demand forecasting, waste reduction, efficiency improvements, and more. For example, they can predict how many total knee or hip replacements will be done in the next six weeks and ensure the appropriate supplies are on hand when needed. They can optimize physician preference cards in the OR by tracking cost and outcomes variance data. And, they can identify supply-level standardization opportunities to reduce waste and improve margins.

The cloud presents great promise for hospital supply chains—but to experience its full benefits, hospitals need the right supply chain optimization partner. Take the time to research which solutions are designed specifically for healthcare and that enhance your processes across the enterprise before you make the leap.

Kishore Bala Chief Technology Officer

Kishore Bala is an accomplished technology professional with over 25 years of experience in the healthcare supply chain, manufacturing, and finance verticals. Known for achieving business goals, he offers a unique blend of healthcare domain expertise, technology experience, executive acumen, sales and marketing experience, application development, and application implementation experience. Mr. Bala has helped develop the Syft supply chain management platform with substantial improvement to business solution offerings at Syft.

Kishore was one of the principals of AtPar, Inc., which Syft acquired in 2010, and has been instrumental in building AtPar’s product portfolio. He has extensive subject matter expertise working with some of the leading healthcare information systems and ERP/materials management systems like PeopleSoft, Lawson, Oracle, McKesson Pathways Materials Management, and Meditech. He also has extensive subject matter expertise in some of the leading and upcoming mobile technologies, standards like HL7, GS1, HBICC, and UDI, and HIPAA regulations, e-Pedigree requirements, etc.

Kishore holds an MBA from Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, an engineering degree from India, and a diploma in database technologies.

Syft Synergy and Oracle SCM Cloud learn More
By , Chief Nursing Officer

A preference card is a detailed list of a surgeon’s preferences to complete a particular procedure. Preference cards typically contain needed and requested instrumentation and supplies including suture material, implantable devices, and other physician preference items. Preference cards can provide diagrams and pictures for room set-up, table set-up, and needed equipment.

4 Minute Read – How accurate are the physician preference cards in your OR? A recent survey conducted by Sage Growth Partners of 100 frontline OR nurses and OR leaders found that only 3% said their hospital’s preference cards are always accurate. That means 97% of nurses are dealing with inaccurate preference cards.

View the full survey results in our latest report: A Nurse-Centric Supply Chain: What it Looks Like and Why it’s Fundamental to Your Hospital’s Success

That high rate of inaccuracy takes a significant toll on nurses, patients, and hospitals, with consequences that include:

  • Increased supply and labor costs including labor to pick the case, labor to return unused or unnecessary supplies, inadvertently discarded or contaminated supplies, and open but unused supplies on the back table. Supplies that are picked and on case carts are reserved and unavailable for other needs which can also result in overordering and overstocking.
  • Increased patient safety issues when the circulating nurse is forced to leave the OR to retrieve needed supplies that are not on the preference card. This increases the number of times the OR door is opened which can increase risk for surgical site infections according to research.1 Additionally, the added time it takes to retrieve supplies leads to longer anesthesia time for the patient.
  • Increased procedural costs and reduced OR throughput as operating room time is calculated by blocks of time or by the minute. The extra time that it takes to leave the room to retrieve needed supplies that are not on the preference card result in additional procedural costs and the inability to increase case throughput in the OR.
  • Increased surgeon and staff dissatisfaction resulting from not having supplies, instruments, and equipment readily available. This is a significant cause of dissatisfaction for surgeons as well as circulating nurses.

Accurate Data Leads to Accurate Physician Preference Cards. And That’s a Fact.

Accurate and updated preference cards require accurate data to understand true usage by physician and procedure. Two key ingredients are needed in order to accomplish this:

  1. Fully integrated supply chain management software with barcode scanning at the point-of-use.
  2. Nursing compliance in using the technology needed to capture supply consumption.

With these key ingredients in place, OR leaders can present surgeons with quantitative information (precise and objective data) and begin collaborating on how or if to update preference cards.

Let our team of clinical experts help guide you to optimized preference cards and new standardization opportunities. Click here to learn more and to schedule a virtual preference card demonstration.

  1. 1. Sage Growth Partners Survey of 100 frontline nurses and nurse leaders, February 2021

Lee Smith DHA, MBA, BSN, RNFA Chief Nursing Officer

As the CNO at Syft, Lee is responsible for guiding customers through their implementations of Syft Synergy point-of-use (POU) and analytics solutions to drive efficiencies and expense reductions throughout the perioperative environment. With an extensive clinical background, Lee is instrumental in helping hospital clinical leadership and front-line users understand how to best optimize their Syft Synergy technology investments, improve processes and metrics across the perioperative continuum, and use data insights to improve the performance of operating rooms. Lee has more than 35 years of experience in health care, including 21 years in supply chain and information technology. She has held leadership positions in hospitals as well as other health care organizations such as Cardinal Health, CareFusion, and BD. She holds a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration, a Master of Science in Business Administration, and Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing.

Physician Preference Cards Learn More
By , Chief Marketing Officer

When hospitals struggled with significant clinical, pharmacy, and warehouse inventory management challenges during the pandemic, Syft ramped up its services like never before

5 Minute Read – At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Syft pledged to do everything we could to help our hospital partners. A key part of that initiative included sending our inventory services team into hospitals across the country—including in peak surge areas—to provide hospitals with the help and resources necessary to keep their supply chains running smoothly throughout the pandemic.

As a result, and despite the new and unprecedented challenges posed by 2020, Syft performed more hospital inventory counts last year than in any year previous.

“It was a record-breaking year for Syft from an inventory perspective, but what we’re most proud of is how our team stepped up to support hospitals, especially when many other supply chain management companies stopped providing on-site services,” says Todd Plesko, Syft’s CEO. “It was important for us to continue providing these critical services to our hospital partners and their staff members who were serving on the front lines.”

Here are some of Syft’s most noteworthy 2020 numbers:

815 counts The number of warehouse, pharmacy, and clinical inventory counts Syft provided hospitals in 2020. That translates to nearly 2.5 counts per day.

Most of those counts took place after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S. on January 21, 2020, and many of the counts were tailored to helping hospitals meet emergent pandemic needs. Common requests included assessing the level of PPE and other critical supplies.

“Hospitals took on so much due to COVID-19, so we did everything we could to make the inventory management process easier for them. In 2021, we are continuing to work hand-in-hand with hospitals to address their traditional inventory management needs and their ongoing pandemic-related needs.”
Rebecca Addison, Syft’s Vice President of Inventory Services

9,395 instances The number of times Syft inventory team members stepped into hospitals to conduct inventory counts in 2020.

Top pandemic-specific benefits our inventory counters provided included:

  • Conducting thorough and accurate clinical and pharmacy inventory counts and valuations at the building, department, and area levels, including expired and consigned items.
  • Identifying items that needed to be replenished, pulled, and moved to other areas.
  • Providing the necessary data to help supply chain and clinical leaders identify potential problems such as overstocking, over-ordering, and hoarding.
“During peak surge periods, many of our hospital partners were struggling to find the resources necessary to ensure proper inventory management, but they also recognized the negative trickle-down effects of not having an accurate count and an organized inventory. We’re glad they could offload these tasks to us so that their staff members could focus on other pressing needs.”
Joseph Pipkins, Syft’s Director of Inventory Operations

$7.6 million The total value of expired products Syft’s inventory management team identified in hospitals in 2020.

As hospitals rushed to care for COVID-19 patients in 2020, many inventory items expired but were not pulled or replaced, particularly in departments that were converted to caring for COVID-19 patients and in the OR where elective procedures were postponed.

“Expired products pose a safety risk for patients, and we come across them much too frequently during inventory counts, but even more so during the pandemic. We’re proud of our ability to help hospitals identify soon-to-be expired and expired products, since we know that has had a positive impact on patient safety.”
Lee Smith, RNFA, BSN, MBA, Syft’s VP of Clinical Solutions

23% growth The increase in the number of inventory counts conducted by Syft over the past two years.

Demand for Syft’s inventory services team was skyrocketing even prior to the pandemic, as more hospitals recognized the need for a more accurate, streamlined inventory management approach—as well as for the efficiency improvements provided by the Syft team. This need was made even more apparent during the pandemic.

“The growth of Syft’s inventory management services division is indicative of the critical importance of healthcare supply chain management, especially during a pandemic or other supply chain disruption event, such as a natural disaster or labor strike.
Brion Bailey, Syft’s Chief Commercial Officer

$15 Billion+ The total valuation of inventory counted by Syft in the last decade.

Syft currently serves 245 customers and 970 U.S. hospitals, including NYU Langone Health, MedStar Health, Cleveland Clinic, Cedars-Sinai Health System, Dignity Health, the University of California Health System, and others. Syft provides inventory services throughout hospitals, including hospital pharmacy inventory services, warehouse inventory services, and clinical inventory services. Syft is also a contracted supplier with many leading GPOs such as HealthTrust, Premier Inc., The Resource Group/Ascension, and Vizient, enabling a streamlined procurement process.

Whitney St. Pierre Chief Marketing Officer

Whitney St. Pierre has nearly 20 years’ experience fulfilling various marketing leadership roles in the technology industry. In her current role as Chief Marketing Officer, Whitney has oversight of all aspects of marketing including strategy, branding, product marketing, sales enablement, and communications to name a few.

Prior to joining Syft, Whitney was the Director of Marketing for Extension Healthcare. During her 8 years there, she was instrumental in a major rebranding initiative that helped to propel the company’s growth. Having become the leader in the clinical communication and collaboration market, Extension Healthcare was acquired by Vocera Communications in 2016.

Whitney earned a BS from Auburn University in 2001 with a concentration on business and marketing. She now lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and two children and is an accomplished artist.

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