By making its supply chain efficient, Phoebe Putney Health is able to allocate more resources to patients.
“It’s all about the patient.”
A lot of, if not all, healthcare organizations make this statement when it comes to the inner workings of their hospitals and facilities. But you know it rings true when even the man in charge of the company’s supply chain is saying it.
Trey French is that man. He’s the Corporate Director of Operations for Phoebe Putney Health Systems’ supply chain, in charge of strategic planning, development, operations, and the performance that directs the overall success of the company’s supply chain.
Founded in 1911, Phoebe Putney is a not-for-profit healthcare delivery system that serves a population of more than a half million residents in Southwest Georgia. With more than 4,300 employees, the system is made up of three hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehabilitation facilities, and specialty physician offices.
“Phoebe is a family of providers, supported by networks of suppliers, who deliver world-class care with a hometown feel,” French continued. “People are often here on some of the worst days of their lives. We make sure they are part of the process, part of our family, and leave better than the way they came.”
With his constant vigilance of the supply chain, French and his value implementation program (VIP) team are able to bring costs down, maintain a high quality of care through supply, and ultimately give clinicians and nurses room to do their job: convalesce the patient.
Phoebe Putney Leadership
VIP teams are comprised of a multi-disciplinary group, including clinicians and employees from the finance and supply chain departments. They lead Phoebe Putney in performing due diligence to determine what the best options are to provide high clinical-quality outcomes. The teams use a value-based purchasing methodology to determine the best option.
“This cradle to grave approach is different from the majority of the industry, which often utilizes product assessment committees,” French said. “They look to see which product is least expensive. We base our decisions on cost, whether the product can improve clinical outcomes and get patients out of the hospital sooner, and how it affects the reimbursement process.”
Phoebe Putney uses a federally regulated materials management information system (MMIS) called Meditech, with a contract management system overlay called GHX to keep its supply chain orderly.
French and his team are looking to bring software in house that would move even more of the VIP teams’ work into a shared cloud and out of isolated spreadsheets.
“Automation is the key to managing inventory well without adding nursing labor. First, nurses are expensive—valuable, but expensive—and they should be able to do their job of convalescing patients without having to worry too much about inventory.”
A recent survey from Cardinal Health found that 18 percent of the average frontline caregiver’s workweek is spent on inventory management tasks. Phoebe Putney employs a system called Par Excellence that significantly reduces caregiver’s time managing their end of the supply chain.
“It’s specifically designed to reduce time looking for supplies, stocking, reorder, etc.,” French said. “It’s weight based: the bin has a scale that knows a specific number of widgets is a particular weight. It calculates how many have been removed and requisitions those supplies immediately. Nurses just have to select the patient, choose the products, and the system will decrement inventory appropriately.”
It’s all about the patient at Phoebe Putney, and that means making the supply chain as efficient and as cost effective as possible so that the organization’s employees can focus on providing the best care possible.
French shared that the company has several projects currently taking place to investigate efficiency and reduce waste.
“At a high level, we’re always trying to reduce the number of SKUs to reduce the opportunity for outdating or missed pick. We also look at diagnosis related group (DRG) cost analyses and review the procedures of the top five by volume, cost, and charge—think false positive blood cultures, for instance. Through product line review and standardization, we can lessen the instances of this.”
In 2018, French and his team are looking at contract compliance. His team is checking the price list and comparing what Phoebe Putney pays against the national average for things like OR implants—think knees and hips. Negotiating better contracts will inevitably lead to money saved.
This goes down to even the band-aids used—French wants to make sure that all hospitals under Phoebe Putney stock the same brand. Where the hospital used to provide different colored socks to ID patients by protocol—a fall risk would be assigned a specific color, for instance—now the supply chain team is looking to standardize to one color.
One of the organization’s perfusionists provided a solution that will lead to around $80,000 in savings. Perfusion packs came with items the hospital already stocked. Removing the redundancy will lead to cost savings. Formula standardization across the pediatric and infant divisions will drive down cost by about $170,000.
Changing Chain for Population Health
When it comes to improving the health of the entire population of Albany, Georgia, the best question to ask, French said, is “where does care take place?”
A lot of care happens at the hospital level. But with recent changes in reimbursements, studies like MRIs have been pushed into the clinics for outpatient situations. French believes you’ll see a further shift of less severe health issues treated in clinics, then monitored in homes.
“From a supply chain aspect, this shift is an interesting one. Devices like my Apple Watch might be signed out for patients. Doctors can track a patient’s blood pressure all day remotely, and intervene only when necessary.
“For me, we have to start looking at how to track those items, continue to improve visibility throughout the supply chain, figure out how to store new supplies like wearables, and manage these new processes efficiently.”
While French predicts a completely different model of healthcare in the future, his and the VIP teams’ management of the supply chain of today’s Phoebe Putney should leave its patients knowing they are in good hands.
Phoebe Putney Health System is a not-for-profit network of more than 4,500 physicians, nurses, professional staff, and volunteers. We deliver compassionate, high quality healthcare to more than 500,000 residents in our 35-county region. Phoebe is dedicated to providing a better way to health and wellness for our entire community.
We are a recognized leader in specialties including cardiovascular medicine, oncology, orthopaedics, and women’s health; and we offer patients the most advanced diagnostic and therapeutic treatments available.
Phoebe also operates Phoebe Physicians, a self-governing, not-for-profit network that includes clinics and hospital-based physicians representing a wide range of medical specialties. Through our facilities, physician network, and innovative partnerships, we bring state-of-the-art medicine to Georgia’s hometowns.
Phoebe Putney Health System HQ
425 W 3rd Ave
Albany, GA 31701