Central Sterile (CS) professionals often cite lack of effective collaboration with other departments as a major opportunity area in their hospitals. This makes sense because CS departments are so integrated into a hospital’s work flow, they necessarily interact with and support a wide number of other departments to perform their work. Among the areas with the greatest need for improved collaboration is in the processing and use of vendor loaned and consigned inventory. This article discusses two major collaboration opportunity areas that are resolved when a Loaner Management System is implemented.

Vendor Rep/Hospital Collaboration
Healthcare is a unique industry in that a hospital’s ability to effectively collaborate with medical device vendors can directly impact patient safety. To make sure the right equipment is delivered at the right time, a solid working relationship is needed between vendors hospital staff. In addition, collaboration with reps is mandatory to ensure the CS department knows how to properly process loaned equipment.

Each instrument used in a hospital has Instructions for Use (IFUs) from the manufacturer that explain how to clean and reprocesses the unit. Without a good working relationship between the reps and the CS department, IFUs can be missing or not properly interpreted. With a strong implementation of a Loaner Management System, IFUs are required for every tray dropped off at the hospital, which allows the collaboration to occur naturally. One hospital that recently implemented ReadySet Surgical’s software reported that their electronic access to IFUs went from 20% to 100% within two weeks. This level of collaboration with vendor reps was previously unattainable.

OR/CS Collaboration
The OR/CS relationship is one that is often fraught with conflict. Trays not being ready for a scheduled surgery, lack of communication on what is needed for each procedure, missing instruments and lack of inventory are all cited as topics these two groups fight about. Furthermore, the intensity of these disagreements is high because surgical delays can be dangerous (in the case of a patient under anesthesia) and very expensive (Wayne State University estimates OR delays cost upwards of $700 per minute).

Effective collaboration is the solution. A proper Loaner Management System can improve collaboration by making sure communication is flowing freely across all departments. With a system in place, surgical schedules, medical device documentation, equipment needs and case timing are all accessible to everyone. With this holistic communication, effective collaboration naturally follows. In fact, one hospital that implemented the ReadySet solution made so much progress that a standing trouble-shooting meeting between the OR and CS department was cancelled indefinitely. Instead of the weekly finger pointing session, these two groups now have the time to collaborate on other process improvements focused on patient care.