Supply chain management is something few clinicians ever think about but it offers a powerful way map the care of patients, says the force behind an ambitious push to advance the digital maturity of healthcare supply chain infrastructure.

Dr Anne Snowdon is the force behind Health-Supply Information Maturity Management (H-SIMM), a model aimed at integrating healthcare supply chains with clinical management.

Snowdon, who is speaking at HIMSS AsiaPac18 in Brisbane next month, is also the Scientific Director and CEO of SCAN Health, a global effort spanning Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada and aimed at advancing global capacity to adopt and scale best practices in healthcare supply chains.

“The key challenges identified by many health systems include multiple IT systems across organisations that do not connect or interface with each other,” she said.

“The challenge this presents is that a patient's journey of care is never captured in a way that all care providers or clinician teams can identify what care has been delivered, what products have been prescribed or used and what outcomes have been achieved. 

“Thus, there is no record of the patient's care journey to date.”

Snowdon said the goal of a clinically integrated supply chain was the automated tracking and traceability of every patient, care process and product used in care. Linking this to clinical outcomes could create a powerful data resource to guide decisions on strengthening organisational performance. 

“Supply chain staff become fully integrated into clinical program teams whereby the supply chain staff are an integral part of the clinical team working to advance quality, safety and value in every program across the organisation,” she said.

“When such a system is scaled across health systems, it creates a robust flow of data in near ‘real time’ to inform system leadership decisions on delivery of programs and care processes that offer the best outcomes for the population the health system is mandated to serve.”

Snowdon said there were three main benefits to such supply chains – namely, increases in safety, quality and value.

For instance, when Mercy Health in the US integrated its supply chain it reported a 70% reduction in ‘never events’ – serious, harmful errors that should never happen in healthcare, such as leaving a product in a surgical wound.

Integrated supply chains can also improve quality by better standardising the level of care patients receive, Snowdon said.

“Variation in care is widely viewed as a challenge for health systems as some patients receive different care than others, with limited ability to standardise to ensure only best practices are delivered in patient care settings,” she said.

“The traceability of every care process, procedure and product delivered by clinician teams enables leaders to track care being delivered and link it to outcomes to inform clinician teams using objective data what practices are achieving the best results for patients.”

Finally, by automating some care processes, integrated supply chain infrastructure can also reduce the amount of labour needed, as well as reducing the waste of clinical products, cutting costs.



Snowdon will be speaking about clinically integrated supply chains at HIMSS AsiaPac18 in Brisbane in November. Learn more here.



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