10 Things an ASC Team Can Do – Today! – to Start Improving Supply Chain
–By Jeff Lawrence
With all the challenges that exist in supply chain management for Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASC), technology shouldn’t be another one. Today’s supply chain technology should overcome, not add to the burden of supply chain management. Here are 10 things you should be using technology to do, in turn increasing your supply chain success and improving results:
1. Order preparation – I’ll go out on a limb and say that pen, paper and post-its might not be the best method for capturing products that need to be reordered. Barcode scanners that easily capture barcode labels on all needed products from all vendors can save a tremendous amount of time.
2. Order approval – People often believe they don’t need to approve orders before they’re submitted – that approving an invoice does the same thing. But shifting approval to the front of the purchasing process can drive significant savings, as you start reducing orders for products not yet needed. Example: an approver may know there’s more product in the nurses’ closet or that a sister facility is overstocked a particular item. This step helps avoid overspending.
3. Order submission – Technology that places orders via EDI, email or autofax is a huge time saver. We need to streamline order submission, so supply chain personnel aren’t logging into multiple websites, standing by fax machines or waiting on hold with customer service.
4. Two-way vendor communication – By leveraging EDI technology, users can establish a pipe from their system to their supplier network that exchanges information both directions. Send out a purchase order and receive back an electronic order acknowledgement; know when the product has been put on the truck and is on its way, and get an electronic invoice.
5. Mobile apps – 92% of Americans have smartphones and constantly have their device in their hand – even at work. With this, business apps on mobile devices are game changers. New supply chain apps help by supporting the user wherever they are. Users can submit orders electronically from an app that in turn, an approver can approve and instantly submit. Mobile apps help users complete an accurate ordering process easily and seamlessly.
6. Tracking costs for better business management – As we push more patient interactions outside of the hospital, we need to capture information to know costs by location, department, specialty, physician, patient, case, etc. Today, technology can help managers at ASCs manage their business plans against real numbers, performing tasks like tracking the movement of inventory across the entire non-acute network.
7. Product formulary – One of the biggest challenges for multi-location organizations is defining a list of best practice/contracted products and enforcing purchase compliance across multiple locations. Work with a GPO to define products that can be standardized and make sure contracts are activated. Your GPO can work with suppliers to make sure contracts are activated and you’re receiving contracted prices. Make sure all items are loaded into your procurement system, so all locations and departments are buying off the same list of contracted products.
8. Cloud based solutions – Selecting cloud-based technology delivers real advantages to a multi-facility ASC organization. Being able to implement a system – especially one that’s customized per facility, but standardized at the organization level – without having to install hardware or go through a rigorous implementation at every location will reduce staff time and investment.
9. Electronic 3-way match and invoice approval – I started my career as an auditor/CPA, so electronic 3-way matching as an afterthought causes me pain. How many organizations just pay an invoice and hope that the quantity and price are accurate? The CPA in me wants to stand on my chair and shout, “make a 3-way match!” Create a PO with accurate pricing, make sure you record the receipt transaction so you know the quantity that should be paid for, and ensure the invoice matches the confirmed price and quantity. Stop hoping the invoice is accurate – know that it is.
10. Automate a high percentage of order confirmations – Often ASC team members need to shift among multiple roles, so it’s hard to find time to confirm that orders are received and being processed. By combining EDI technology and advanced email confirmation tools, users can confirm a very high percentage of orders electronically. When this information is delivered back into the supply chain system, users can simply manage orders by exception.
Let technology solve some of your most difficult supply chain challenges. All of these items are things your organization can do today, with great technology and shared industry best practices.
About the Author
With a substantial background in healthcare supply chain technology, Jeff Lawrence joined Inventory Optimization Solutions (IOS) in 2009 as the Vice President of Business Development. For over 20 years, Jeff has focused on leveraging supply chain technology to build a more efficient and sustainable healthcare industry. With hands-on experience helping providers implement technology to improve business processes, Jeff works in partnership with his customers, sharing best practices to increase automation and improve overall business results. Jeff’s career has included roles in business development and sales, along with finance, implementation, operations, and strategy development. He brings a strong blend of customer focus, business strategy, innovation and execution, which helps IOS quickly and efficiently deliver inventory and supply management solutions to provider organizations throughout the continuum of care.