SPD and Supply Chain – Aligned at Last?
ReadySet Surgical Staff Writers

For most matters, there is an inherent conflict between the Sterile Processing Department (SPD) management and hospital Supply Chain management. Fairly or unfairly, Supply Chain is often branded as the people who say, ‘no’ to requests. Plenty of stories exist about SPD professionals doing their homework on new equipment, researching the total impact to the staff and facility, negotiating good pricing and proving the value of a new purchase. Then, when the request is formally made, the Supply Chain (or purchasing) organization blocks the purchase. The next fiscal year, the same thing happens until this back-and-forth becomes a pattern.

It’s no wonder these two groups often seem at odds with each other.

But what can these two groups, with different charters, agree on? They both want what’s best for the hospital and for patient care. They both are staffed with committed professionals.

Increasingly, these two groups are finding common ground on using data to run operations. One of these areas of agreement is related to solving a problem that affects both groups: Loaner Management.

The negative impact to SPD of using loaner equipment and managing the associated trays is well documented. Late deliveries, missing IFU’s and the lack of forward insight into expected workloads make processing loaner trays the bane of SPD operations. Beyond the impact to SPD operations, many hospital systems are starting to realize that poor management of vendor inventory is also having negative financial effects. When this common enemy is identified (vendor inventory mis-management), SPD and Supply Chain can both agree on a solution—Loaner Management software that efficiently tracks all loaned equipment and trays.

SPD is often eager to implement a solution because Loaner Management software provides early warning for trays that will be dropped off to be sterilized and tracks those trays through the hospital and back to the vendor. The side benefit of a software solution is that all related activity leaves a digital trail—data that can be used to understand incurred costs associated with processing trays for a given medical device manufacturer. With previously unavailable usage and compliance data available by supplier, the Supply Chain group has more leverage to negotiate better financial outcomes for the hospital. These savings can then be passed along to patients in the form of better care.

While their goals may be different, Supply Chain and SPD can usually both agree that getting the Loaner Management process under control is a benefit to both groups. And doing so with a software solution allows for maximum benefit due to the increased data possibilities.

This article was originally published in ReadySet Review, a newsletter intended to help educate Surgical Service Professionals on important, topical issues. The views and opinions in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of ReadySet Surgical.