After 18 years of preaching about supply utilization management (SUM), I’m happy to report that this term is now part of the healthcare supply chain lexicon. No longer is it a misunderstand phase or considered to be another “flavor of the month.” It is real, tangible, and achievable! However, there are still four things you should know about supply utilization management to increase your savings yield almost overnight:
1. They Are Hidden From Your View. I like to say, “You can’t see a utilization misalignment (wasteful and inefficient consumption, misuse, misapplication, or value mismatches in your supply streams) with the naked eye,” to get the point across that you need a tracking system to identify these new and better savings. Therefore, without a SUM system you are acting like a blind archer; always missing the target.
2. They Require Continuous Monitoring. It’s not enough to uncover and eliminate a utilization misalignment because it has been our clients’ experience that they will reoccur without never-ending monitoring. For instance, one of our clients continued to fall back to their old habits of changing wound care dressings too often on patients when modern wound care dressings are made to stay on the patients for longer periods of time. This was recognized and corrected each time since they were employing our Clinical Supply Utilization Management System to monitor their supply utilization. Without this CSUMS our client would have wasted tens of thousands of dollars annually on wound care dressings and quality of patient care would have suffered as well.
3. They Are Ever-Present In Your Supply Streams. Supply utilization misalignments don’t just pertain to your supplies. Utilization misalignments can and do occur in your purchased services, drugs, lab tests, and technologies. For example, reference lab cost per test was running very high for a community hospital client beyond the cohort norm as well as increasing historically. Without CSUM reporting in place this may go overlooked or missed altogether without any corrective action and thus budget costs would increase.
4. They Are A Strategy To Save More In Less Time. With your group purchasing contracts yielding less and less savings every year, your SUM savings (7% to 15% of your supply chain expense budget) can pick up the slack. There is nowhere else to go for savings.
Remember this sage advice: If you keep doing the same things to save money and are getting only meager results, maybe it’s time to invest in a SUM system to up your savings yields. Why keep fighting a losing battle! Also, it will make your savings job a whole lot easier.
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