PEOPLE & OPINIONS Offsite Sterile Processing Readiness

sure the offsite facility can effectively interface with its onsite counterparts.

4. Inventory management and service level Balancing the quantity and location of in- ventory within the system is a crucial aspect of offsite planning, and one that must not be overlooked. Offsite operations may require a net increase in inventory to accommodate longer processing times, as well as transpor- tation time. Availability of instrumentation and supply when needed, often referred to in the industry as the fill rate, must be nearly perfect to ensure success. A robust inven- tory management system is vital.

5. Clinical environment Any offsite operation must be designed to complement clinical operations and im- prove outcomes. Systems with a significant volume of predictable, elective procedures planned far in advance are typically the best candidates for offsite processing. On the other hand, hospitals such as academic medical centers that see frequent emergent cases or highly complex procedures are not as ideal because they must often retain a significant processing and storage capabil- ity on site, thereby diluting the business case for an offsite facility.

6. Supply chain expertise Running an offsite sterile processing operation means not only managing the processing engine itself, but also managing transportation, inventory, etc. While some health systems have individuals with these skills in house, many do not. Experience

indicates that the most successful offsite projects have strong leadership who have, or are willing to obtain, supply chain talent. Running a successful offsite facility is a full-time job and should be treated as such.

7. Integration with a strategic vision The rise of consolidated service centers (CSCs) has had an important impact on offsite sterile processing operations. The business case for offsite processing, coupled with that for other ancillary operations like supply chain, equipment storage, pharmacy, clinical lab, etc., is often more compelling than that of sterile processing alone. It is important that leaders consider a broader strategic vision to include future centralization of shared services, acquisi- tions and mergers, etc.

8. Buy-in from leadership Buy-in from all levels of leadership is cru- cial. If key players are not on board, moving off site is not likely the best course of action. However, it takes more than executives and senior management to make the offsite operations run efficiently and effectively. It is prudent to identify a project champion and involve key leaders from the OR and sterile processing department early in the process. If buy-in from end-users (e.g., nurses, surgeons, technicians, etc.) is lack- ing, experience suggests the outlook is dim.

If effectively analyzed, the eight factors presented above

should lead to more ques- tions than answers—and that is a good thing! Offsite operations

are complex, multifaceted systems that require thorough analysis and planning. It is crucial that healthcare leaders consider each facet carefully. Offsite operations have unique challenges that make the planning and design process fundamentally different from designing an onsite operation. Not only does scale necessitate a more detailed approach to facility layout and equipment planning, but it also requires prudent consideration of advanced technology, transportation, inventory management, and long-term strategic plans with regards to growth, real estate, and finance. That said, complexity need not be scary. The potential benefits of offsite processing can be realized when facilities and processes are engineered to meet the needs of the hospi- tals and healthcare systems they serve. HPN

Derrick Bransby is an engineer and project manager at St.Onge Company (www.stonge. com), an independent engi- neering firm based in York, PA. He specializes in applied industrial engineering and actively studies the applica- tion of systems thinking to the delivery of affordable,

high quality, patient-centered health care. Bransby received his BS in Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh and is enrolled as an MBA candidate at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. You can contact him by email at • HEALTHCARE PURCHASING NEWS • April 2018 53

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