The Healthcare Hub

Why now is the time to automate your implant orders

Thursday, August 18, 2022

“I would say that we were the driver in helping our teams understand what was possible. That would be one thing we had to continuously do and would say to all of you as well. This is possible. It can be done.”  Jack Koczela, Froedtert Health, Director of Supply Chain Services

Health systems and their suppliers have long looked for ways to simplify implant orders to reduce costs, save time, improve contract and invoice accuracy, and provide better patient care by making sure the right implants are available.

During the 2022 GHX Summit Automating Bill-Only Implant Orders panel presentation, supply chain leaders from three U.S. health systems, Froedtert Health, Mount Sinai Health System and Stanford Health Care, explained to attendees why the time to automate implant orders is now and shared their stories on how they did it.



We’ve got the technology

Stanford Health Care holds the distinction of being the first provider to have automated all implant orders through the GHX Exchange. Panelist Robert Hatkins, Director, Procurement and Dock Services, Stanford Health Care, answered the question, “Why now? Why weren’t we doing this 10 years ago?”

“It’s something that we really wanted from GHX and from suppliers, to be able to send implant orders via EDI,” said Hatkins. “And I think the reason ‘why now’ is because collectively, we’ve finally caught up to be able to do it.”

Being caught up means having the technology in place to normalize line-level data in complex PO transactions, including implant orders. Rammi Gill, Vice President, Managed Services and Customer Care, GHX, commented on Stanford Health Care’s accomplishments.

“Even just a few years ago that would have been impossible both from a technology and scope perspective. What we’ve found, specifically in the Stanford example, is the ability to provide a universal solution which has made it easier to adopt.”

Because providers and suppliers each have their own systems, processes and requirements when it comes to implant orders, it was critical to develop technology that would work not only for one provider/supplier pair, but across all of them.



The easy stuff has already been automated – for the most part

As panelist Jack Koczela, Director of Supply Chain Services, Froedtert Health, says, most health systems have “tackled the basics” when it comes to medical/surgical supply automation. That’s why now is the time to address implant orders.

“Sutures, styrofoam cups, and all that sort of stuff is pretty much automated but with implant orders we could see that almost none were automated,” said Koczela.

As they tackled the challenge of bill-only orders in collaboration with GHX and a key member of Froedtert’s Supplier Partner Council, Koczela and his team found as order automation increased for bill-only implant orders, automation increased for standard orders as well. It turns out there is a connection based on perception of trust in the process. With a consistent automated buying process for implant or non-implant, more orders go through EDI.

“From the buyers’ perspective, because those orders weren’t automated, they were telling us they were uncomfortable with the non-implant orders for those same vendors,” said Koczela. “There were certain vendors that maybe 5% of our orders were EDI and once we figured out the bill-only component, then we turned to 98% EDI. Even if only 30% of those orders were truly bill-onlys, the reason why (they became automated) is that the buyers were then comfortable just ‘clicking the easy button’ to send it EDI every single time.”



People want to do value-add work, not push paper around

Over the past two-decades, supply chain has been elevated from a tactical to a strategic function in most health systems. Supply chain leaders are securing seats at the C-suite table, and there is greater recognition among their team members of the critical role they play in patient care delivery.

The increased desire to perform value-added work is another reason why now is the time to automate implant orders, as Franco Sagliocca, Corporate Director Supply Chain, Mt. Sinai Health System, explains:

“Moving a piece of paper around – what satisfaction is in that for an employee today? We have to grow and grow what they do. What's going on with these bill-only orders is they have enabled us to move folks to more value-added positions instead of this transactional stuff.”



It is your time to act

Koczela’s message to attendees: “I would say to all of you: This is possible. It can be done. So go do it.”

Transaction automation is essential to digitizing processes, saving resources, and improving decision making. GHX can help you get there.

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