The Healthcare Hub

Finally, a Kanban System That Works for Nurses

Thursday, December 2, 2021

A senior nursing director speaks on Syft’s “Smart” Kanban system

In a recent interview with a senior nursing director at a 10-hospital health system, I had the opportunity to hear first-hand how their clinicians are using and benefitting from the Syft Synergy 2-bin Kanban inventory management system. The Syft Kanban solution has been adopted by 8 of the 10 hospitals and medical centers that make up this East Coast-based network. Here’s what the Senior Nursing Director who leads the Critical Care/Emergency Department/Trauma Services at one of the locations shared about Syft’s “really smart Kanban design” and how it has driven user adoption at the point of use.

Before implementing Syft’s 2-bin Kanban solution, how did your hospital manage inventories and PAR replenishments and what were some of the challenges you experienced?

Sr. Nursing Director: The previous system was also a 2-bin Kanban system with integrated RFID tags, but it had limitations and flaws that occasionally impacted supply availability. For example, with the old system, once a bin was empty, the RFID tag had to be moved to an RFID board which then sent the PAR replenishment signal. There were times when the RFID tag fell under a cabinet and because no one knew this had happened, the request to restock the bin(s) was never received and we ran out of certain supplies. We learned the hard way that if you miss the window to send the restock signal, supplies could be delayed by a day or even longer.

Another big issue with the previous system was lack of data. We need data to help gauge efficiency. Without data we find ourselves asking questions like do we have the right PAR levels? What variables are impacting optimal performance? How do we course correct? What revenue is being generated from chargeable items? We are very excited that Syft can provide this level of intelligence.

Have you experienced any stockouts now that Syft is in place?

Sr. Nursing Director: No. However, we’ve had to train personnel on certain things and make some PAR adjustments along the way to ensure this doesn’t happen. Here’s what I mean by that. The materials team has to make sure they put the right bins in the right place with each turn or that can impact replenishment cycles. We also have to make sure clinicians don’t pull from the full bin (“Bin B”) when there are still items in the first bin (“Bin A”). If this were to happen it could skew PAR levels. The good news here is that Syft has a unique approach that almost forces the nurse to pull from Bin A. It’s really clever.

Lastly, we’ve adjusted PAR levels on certain items like baby diapers in the NICU. Originally, we wanted to keep 9 days stock for all supplies but for bulky items like diapers we’ve realized the need to lower PAR levels and adjust the replenishment cycles accordingly.

You’re not only using the Syft Synergy software to manage PAR replenishment. Your teams actually leveraged Syft Kanban experts to design and physically build the 2-bin Kanban structures for more than 40 units. How did this process go?

Sr. Nursing Director: First, we created committees and sub-committees where supply chain, medical materials, nursing leaders, and others could collaborate to ensure a successful Syft deployment. For example, our supply teams were very involved with the Syft team in space planning and making sure the racks that were built fit within the spaces allocated for them. Medical materials managers and nursing leaders collaborated with Syft’s clinical experts to determine appropriate PAR volumes for each unit. Nurse leaders across all facilities joined together to share best practices. It’s been a team effort and we are happy with the outcome so far.

Change is hard for some. How have the nurses reacted to using the Syft 2-bin Kanban system and what change management advice can you give to others?

Sr. Nursing Director: Oh, they are totally fine with it! The system before this was a 2-bin system so they were familiar with it; they just thought the old system was confusing and clunky. Literally before this, even when trying to follow a process, we still ended up storing items on top of trash bins and in other makeshift storage units. Nurses just want things to be simple and they want supplies to be available when they need them. The engineering of the Syft system is very cool and super organized. It’s a creative, efficient use of space. For example, some items can’t be stored in a flat bin. Some things are just meant to be stored vertically, which the Syft system allows. Again, the design is just really smart and easy for nurses.

All this to say, my advice for improving adoption is to make it simple for the users. Get front-line nurses and nurse leaders involved early. Our nurse champions really loved being a part of the initial design process. Training is important too. We trained super users through Syft U and they in turned trained the end users. This model has worked really well for us. We still have some things to figure out and improve but all-in-all things are going as planned and staff satisfaction is high.


Image Description

Whitney St. Pierre

Executive Director, Product Marketing