manual processes with more accurate sys- tems. So why are we still stumbling? Several possible reasons — historically apps haven’t been easy enough to use or didn’t have the ability to efficiently support individual loca- tions or facilities, as well as the enterprise as a whole; the availability of company-provided smart devices (and risk of having people use personal devices); and finally, a lin- gering lack of good data, which must be addressed to eliminate manual interven- tion in our systems. Jeff Lawrence, Vice President, Business Development,

Inventory Optimization Solutions (IOS)

Telehealth will clearly play a role in the future of healthcare, transitioning care from medical facilities and offices into a more patient-centered, “delivered wherever you are” approach. That will also translate into apps and technologies that support telehealth care delivery, including supply chain. For example, as a physician prescribes durable medical equipment for a patient through their telehealth visit, envision an icon appearing on the screen that shows the prescription and a link to order that item from the hospital supply process. It would show how many are on hand, days to deliver, and tracking information once it ships — together in one care delivery platform. Steve Downey, Group Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Operations, Vizient Inc.

Premier has a great app called Premier- Connect. It brings all their apps together in one place, allowing users to leverage the shared knowledge of the entire alliance. Their members can collaborate online with other members, which is key to improving the healthcare supply chain as a whole. This company’s Spend Advisor app allows users to analyze total supply spend and find savings op- portunities in the medical/ surgical pharmacy space. Lee Ann McWhorter, Strategic Alliances Director, First Databank

We will see applications for locating and re- questing equipment, supplies, materials, etc., providing visibility at clinicians’ fingertips and affording them the flexibility to request materials and equipment and track demand by users.

Other “apps” we are now seeing are tied to

home health and telehealth models. Patients with apps are now capable of receiving care

in their home or other non-clinical location(s). The implications of this to the supply chain are exponential. Healthcare supply chains would more closely align with a Business to Consumer (B2C) model, where the customers are home or work addresses versus clinical locations. Sean O’Neill, Executive Vice President, St. Onge Co.

Predicting patient arrival is a prevalent chal- lenge for health systems and drives a level of inefficiency and waste. As more and more patients accept having their location tracked, as many apps do today, there is a potential to leverage smartphones as a passive indica- tor for arrival prediction, enabling efficiency gains and an improved patient experience. As the delivery of care continues to decentral- ize, the ability to get insight into arrivals will become even more critical to reducing waste. Further deployment and use of phone apps will provided additional opportunities, such as on-demand medication refills, medical supply refills, claims viewing, processing, payment, cost estimators for procedures, etc. As an example, an app could be used to “pre-check-in” emergency visits. This would allow for a streamlined process to capture the patient’s basic informa- tion, as well as his or her chief compliant, and assist with triaging the patient and scheduling appropriate diagnostic services. Tom Redding, Managing Director, Healthcare Services, St. Onge Co.

Software enhances service The two key elements that will shape the future operations and performance of the healthcare supply chain are software and knowledge. If we’re going to truly transform the healthcare supply chain, there needs to be a platform-based solution that is truly end-to- end and supports persona-specific situations. The platform aspect is key because the future is not sustainable with various point solutions that have to be held together with duct tape. Building end-to-end visibility is foundational to outcome measures, which then cycle back to improving delivery of care via fact-based analytics.

What will drive transformation beyond specific technologies is truly knowledgeable supply chain professionals. The challenge is these resources are scarcer than hen’s teeth in healthcare because hospitals were never set up to deal with the complexity of today’s healthcare supply chain. As a solu- tions provider, not having these resources

is an issue for us. We’re coming to the dance with a technology platform; however, in many situations, we struggle to find a good dance partner. The lack of professionals within the health system with the necessary skillsets to implement, maintain, and run the application over the long haul is a barrier to transformation.

A good supply chain platform has to be sustained — it’s not something an orga- nization can implement and forget. If it’s sustained well, it will fundamentally change how a health system operates. It will drive efficiency and patient safety. It will reduce costs. It will improve outcomes. It will do so many things. But you know the old saying, “a puppy isn’t just something you take home at Christmas, it’s for life.” And that’s one of the challenges we see: Some of the organizations that implement a supply chain solution will check it off their list and move onto other projects. They risk leaving it to fall apart behind them. To do it right, it truly takes supply chain professionals who are dedicated over the long term. Health systems like Intermountain Healthcare and Mercy have brought in the right kinds of people and given them leadership roles, and that is part of the reason they are knocking it out of the park. Peter Brereton, President and CEO,TECSYS

On average, hospitals spend as much on

purchased services as they do on medical sup- plies and capital equipment combined — and yet they have limited resources dedicated to managing services spend. Supply chains are turning to purchased services spend man- agement software solutions like Medpricer’s mSource to streamline the contracting process and increase their strategic value within their organization.

With the right software, the supply chain can automate their purchased services sourcing lifecycle and implement a scalable program that helps them manage thousands of con- tracts that are competitive in the marketplace and are tailored to the unique needs of their organization. Mickey Meehan, Vice

President, Products & Marketing, Medpricer

ALEXANDER-VAUGHN: Software pack- ages provide the backbone of many supply chain activities. Software is a tool that, when well-managed, enables an organization to automate work, extend the capabilities of limited resources, understand where efforts can have the most impact. Utilizing software tools and linking information where there are

Page 12 • HEALTHCARE PURCHASING NEWS • October 2018 11

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