The Healthcare Hub

4 to Do More: Automating Bill-Only Implant and Consignment Order Processes for Digital Transformation

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Automating bill-only implant and consignment orders is a uniquely challenging initiative due to the complexity of inventory management, vendor coordination and the need for precise data integration. However, addressing small, impactful changes can lead to significant benefits for providers and suppliers alike.

One pivotal change is to focus on "4 to Do More" — four key data elements that providers and suppliers can leverage to more fully automate ordering and payment workflows. This can be achieved through an EDI-enabled transaction platform, with GHX’s Managed Service streamlining procurement processes for providers without EDI automation, and GHX's advanced business rules engine incorporating machine learning to handle complex order scenarios for suppliers. 



Table of Contents


The Challenge: Complex, Manual Processes

Dealing with numerous bill-only and consignment vendors can make it challenging for health systems to track the specific requirements of each trading partner, including where to send orders and what documentation to provide. The variability in the capabilities of providers' and suppliers’ ERP and MMIS systems further complicates the situation. 

The result is an ongoing reliance on manual processes that are often fraught with inefficiencies, errors and delays. Even healthcare leaders who have confidently spearheaded the automation of other procurement processes might be uncertain about how to begin. 


4 to Do More: Simplifying Automation

The Bill-Only Implant and Consignment Order Automation Guide published by GHX features input from a collaborative workgroup representing leading providers, suppliers and other healthcare organizations. One key recommendation from this workgroup is the "4 to Do More" approach, focusing on alignment around four key data elements that make it easier for both providers and suppliers to transition to automated processes. These data elements are: 

  1. Order Type: Clearly defining whether the order is for an implant, consignment or other related items helps categorize and process orders accurately.
  2. Subtype: Further categorization within the main order type provides additional detail crucial for correct processing.
  3. Sales ID (preferred) or Provider Case ID: This identifier links the order to a specific sales or case record, ensuring traceability and accountability.
  4. Lot and/or Serial Number: These numbers are critical for tracking specific items, allowing precise inventory management and traceability. 

By working together to establish a mutually agreed-upon minimum data set, providers and suppliers can better ensure that the necessary data is consistently and accurately exchanged, thus simplifying and standardizing the information needed to process bill-only and consignment orders electronically. This approach also helps eliminate the need for protected health information (PHI), thereby maintaining patient data security. 


The Impact for Providers

Implementing the "Four to Do More" strategy can lead to significant operational improvements for providers: 

  • Streamlined Workflows: Automation simplifies workflows, reducing the administrative burden on staff and allowing more focus on patient care.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Accurate, readily available data supports informed decisions about inventory management, procurement, and patient care.
  • Faster Invoice Processing: Providers can make timely payments, potentially enabling them to take advantage of early payment incentives.  
  • Enhanced Collaboration: Better alignment and communication between providers and suppliers improve supply chain efficiency and relationships. 
  • Scalability: Automated processes can scale as the health system grows, maintaining efficient and effective supply chain management. 


The Impact for Suppliers 

Suppliers also stand to gain significantly from the "Four to Do More" approach: 

  • Improved Order Accuracy: Suppliers receive clearer, more accurate orders, reducing the chance of errors and misunderstandings. 
  • Faster Processing Times: Automation speeds up the order processing cycle, enabling suppliers to fulfill orders more quickly and efficiently. 
  • Reduced Administrative Burden: Streamlined data requirements mean less time spent on manual data entry and corrections, allowing suppliers to focus on strategic business activities. 
  • Improved Cash Flow: Reduced Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) from faster invoice processing enhances suppliers' cash flow and financial stability. 
  • Better Inventory Management: Accurate and timely information for lot or serial numbers helps suppliers maintain better control over their inventory, reducing the risk of overstocking or stockouts. 
  • Stronger Customer Relationships: Improved communication and alignment with providers foster stronger, more collaborative relationships, leading to increased customer satisfaction. 


GHX: Partnering for Success

Focusing on "Four to Do More" not only enhances efficiency and accuracy but also supports a broader digital transformation across the healthcare supply chain. At GHX, we are committed to supporting both providers and suppliers every step of the way. By working together to embrace automation, we can ensure a smoother transition to a more efficient and effective healthcare supply chain, ultimately benefiting the entire healthcare ecosystem. 

Download The Bill-Only Implant and Consignment Order Automation Guide from GHX.  



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Susan LaFountain

Product Manager, Industry Adoption