By Cheryl Flury
As we start wrapping up 2014, it’s easy to say it’s been a year with a lot of change. And in healthcare, many organizations can point to great progress. Yet it still begs the question “is it enough?” We’ve seen growing automation and business process improvement, yet hospital leaders agree there’s still much to do. A few days ago, I sat down with JumpTech CEO John Freund, and had a chance to hear his thoughts about what we’ll see coming up in 2015. Topping his list of predictions are new technology trends, with lower cost technology solutions and an acceleration of supply chain improvements for hospitals. John believes we’ll see provider organizations really sharpen their focus on improving business processes to further reduce costs, and as a result, they’ll be looking for new technology solutions that more cost-effectively support their businesses.
John commented that healthcare solutions still lag behind other industries, and with this, “hospital leaders are recognizing the need to implement more cost effective, best-of-breed solutions that deliver value quickly. With cloud-based technology becoming more widely leveraged, hospitals need greater value from their solution providers, through faster implementation speeds, lower investments in new hardware and easier, more rapid adoption of new solutions. Healthcare providers simply can’t afford to spend 6- to 12-months implementing new technology.”
Here’s the 2015 Predictions List:
We will see an upsurge in the importance of the supply chain in addressing the budget impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). From a 2014 survey completed by healthcare consultant, researcher and thought-leader Jamie C. Kowalski, CEO of Jamie C. Kowalski Consulting, LLC, 91% of hospital C-level executives and supply chain leader respondents agreed supply chain management is one of the top three expense reduction strategies hospitals will use to the meet the challenge of healthcare reform.
Hospitals will change their inventory management approach from “one size fits all” and move toward approaches that meet both clinical and supply chain management needs. A supply chain leader at a Pennsylvania medical center recently told us approximately 75-80% of the supplies purchased by his organization cost under $20 each, yet he sees hospitals spending millions in software, labor and cabinets to manage relatively inexpensive items. He’s recently moved to a two-bin approach in his Emergency Department, and has reduced costs while driving satisfaction among the ED nurses. He believes this approach will rapidly gain acceptance for management of med-surg supplies, as hospitals look for lower cost ways to manage their most frequently consumed supplies.
More progressive organizations will make mobile business intelligence their users’ primary experience, not just an occasional convenience. In 2015, more adoption of mobile will enable users to access intelligence about their business while they go about performing tasks around the hospital.
Building on the prediction of greater adoption of mobile technology, IT leaders in hospitals will turn to mobile- and cloud-based solutions to free internal resources to manage their highest priority projects, such as implementing electronic medical records and meeting regulatory requirements.
The cost of supply chain and inventory management solutions will decline. Hospitals have been charged high prices for solutions that haven’t yet proved their value, with high up front and operating costs, even for managing extremely low cost supplies. Hospitals will demand more cost-effective approaches, which require less investment in hardware, more rapid adoption, greater utilization and faster ROI.
We’ll see increasing pressure on hospitals to generate data and analysis that drives understanding of cost, quality and outcomes (CQO). Hospitals need more visibility to data about their results, and supply chain is a key link among the three CQO components. At the most basic level is visibility to product usage, a major building block to understanding CQOs. In 2015, technology and process will help drive visibility to utilization of supplies, moving hospitals closer to understanding CQOs.
John concluded, “Hospital supply chain leaders are ready for more. I see growing acceptance of best practices that have been proven in other industries. Great change has occurred, both inside hospitals and with available technology solutions, but even more is needed to deliver real value. New technology is going to help hospital leaders increase the momentum of cost-effective change.”