Canadian researcher Dr. Anne Snowdon’s research has created new evidence that supply chain infrastructure, enabled by global standards, offers inventory savings, reduced labour costs per case, and, most importantly, evidence of reduced Never Events that can cause harm to patients.
Research findings demonstrate a 4:1 to 7:1 return on investment for hospital organizations who introduced supply chain infrastructure, enabled by global standards adoption, which significantly reduces inventory costs and labour costs.
The newly published research report The Impact of Supply Chain Transformation in Health Systems: Alberta Health Services, Mercy Health, National Health Service consists of three international case studies:
Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) supply chain strategy began in 2010, when it became Canada’s first province-wide health system, bringing together all 13 regional health units across the province.
Global standards were introduced across a range of business processes including inventory control and procurement across the province. Global standards made it possible to track and trace products and equipment across the province to achieve a better understanding of what inventory is being used, how often and when it needs to be replenished.
Supply chain tracking and traceability, enabled by global standards, supported AHS to:
The U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) introduced supply chain tracking and traceability after a series of high-profile cases underscored the need to strengthen patient safety to create transparency across the system.
Starting with six hospitals trusts, the NHS set out to increase the traceability of their supply chain, enabled by global standards, to improve patient safety, increase clinical productivity and realize operational efficiencies.
The NHS highlighted the integration of clinical and supply chain staff as a key condition for the successful implementation of supply chain infrastructure. Clinician leadership was a key factor in decisions to standardize product use linked to best outcomes for patients.
Since the adoption of global standards, the NHS has seen:
Mercy viewed supply chain as a strategic health system asset to improve operational, clinical and financial performance. Mercy was experiencing declining reimbursement models for case costs and viewed supply chain best practices as a strategy to advance and strengthen system performance.
With greater supply chain transparency through global standards adoption and point of care barcode scanning in the Perioperative program, Mercy has been able to reduce inventory waste, improve accurate capture of products used in care, and improve efficiency during surgical procedures.
By implementing supply chain infrastructure, including global standards, in their perioperative program, Mercy has:
Supply chain infrastructure in health systems enables traceability of every product, every patient and every care process that is tracked digitally and linked to patient outcomes to determine the products and care process that achieve the best outcomes for patients and under what conditions.
GS1 global supply chain standards are a key enabler to supply chain tracking and traceability to support quality of care that is safe for patients and reduces health system costs.
Currently, no country in the world, including Canada, has implemented supply chain infrastructure scaled across entire health systems, supported by global standards. However, those organizations who are starting to implement supply chain infrastructure are seeing a high return on investment and demonstrable effects on patient safety.