LEAN SUPPLY CHAIN TRANSFORMATION
Simplifying and improving supply chain processes can lead to dramatic cost savings and can give working hours back to clinicians for higher-value activities. Martin Health System, a nationally recognized community healthcare organization based in southeaster Florida, is a good example of a healthcare provider that realized significant cost savings by moving to a lean supply chain process.
With three hospitals and 434 licensed beds, Martin Health serves over 20,000 inpatients annually along the Treasure Coast. Martin Health is dedicated to clinical research and provides leading-edge care in the fields of cardiology and oncology. Nearly three years ago, Martin Health broke ground on a new hospital, to be named Tradition Medical Center. As construction began, the performance excellence team was already looking at ways to increase operational efficiencies at the new location. Under the direction of Martin Health System’s Judy Wilcox (Director of Supply Chain) and Chuck Cleaver (CFO), Martin Medical Center had implemented a lean supply chain solution to streamline operations in the ICUs and perioperative departments.
Before the implementation at Martin Medical Center, technicians from multiple departments, including those in pharmacy, respirator, wound care, and anesthesia, popped in and out to restock supplies. Aside from the distraction to doctors, patients, and caregiving staff, there was a high labor cost. Each department spent numerous hours per day ordering and restocking supplies, rather than focusing on higher-value clinical activities.
The system was simple to execute: supply areas were stocked with BlueBin’s two-bin kanban system, one fore and one aft, both holding specified levels of the same supply. When the front bin was emptied, caregivers placed the empty bin on the top shelf of the storage unit and pulled the second bin to the front. An empty bin in the designated holding area triggered replenishment and, before the second bin is depleted, contents of the first bin were reordered, restocked and replaced in the supply area by the materials technician. A companion analytics dashboard enabled managers to monitor hospital activity based on inventory use and anticipate inventory challenges before they become complications.
As a result of the change, Martin Medical Center reduced interruptions in the ICUs and perioperative departments, giving time for clinical work back to the various caregivers and technicians. Given the success at Martin Medical Center, the team decided to implement the same solution at Tradition from the ground up.
While the new hospital was being readied for opening day, the operations team put the final touches on the new supply chain system. The hospital-wide program was built in a nearby warehouse, installed in the weeks before the ribbon cutting, and went live on opening day. Tradition was built to employ a “porch” concept, a new nursing station model that aims to place 60% of the supplies needed for patient care directly outside the patient rooms and within an arm’s reach of busy nurses. At Tradition, these supply caches are called Nurse Servers and part of the supply chain solution. With the new implementation, Tradition Medical Center became one of only a handful of sites in the U.S. servicing all supplies, in all areas, all the way to the bedside.
Over 14,000 clinical hours and 7,000 support service hours per year were saved as a result of the lean supply chain implementation, giving Martin Health back the equivalent of 10 full-time employees from the original staff plan for Tradition.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR THE PATIENT?
What the solution means for patients in southeastern Florida is higher quality and more focused care. For technicians and nursing staff, it means more time dedicated to caring for patients and more clinical activities – which is what they do best.