The Healthcare Hub

How Data Supports Consignment Implant Order Automation

Thursday, August 25, 2022

“Not to beat a dead horse but I’m going to say it again. It starts with your data. You’ve got to clean your house up—make sure everything is clean, contracts aligned, pricing loaded—and then you can build from there. If that's not right, it gets messy, a lot of back and forth, and nobody is going to be satisfied.” -Franco Sagliocca, Corporate Director, Supply Chain, Mount Sinai Health System.

 After years of trying, health systems are successfully automating implant orders thanks to technology advancements, greater provider/supplier collaboration and the desire to find new ways to drive costs and waste out of the healthcare supply chain.

Supply chain teams from three U.S. health systems, Froedtert Health, Mount Sinai Health System and Stanford Health Care, have successfully automated implant orders with suppliers and shared their stories during the 2022 GHX Summit Automating Bill-Only Implant Orders panel presentation.

They cautioned how implant order automation isn’t a flip of the switch process. It requires considerable planning and pre-work, collaboration and most importantly, establishing a solid and accurate data foundation.

Clean up your house

“With anything that leverages technology the data is so important,” said panelist Sagliocca.

“It sounds easy but none of this stuff is easy,” Sagliocca added. “You’ve got to roll up your sleeves and get in there and make it work. You have to get engaged to make it happen and put the plan together. But the benefits, dividends are huge once this is off the ground and rolling.”

“We don’t want to automate garbage. We want to automate quality,” said panelist Robert Hatkins, Director, Procurement and Dock Services, Stanford Health Care, the first health system to have automated all its implant orders through the GHX Exchange. “We have a high degree of confidence in the data quality today. I couldn't sit here and say that a few years ago.”

“If you are not at a point where you are transacting regular orders with a high degree of accuracy – you have your vendor master set up properly for all of the different divisions, you have the right account numbers set up, EDI mappings, a well-cleaned item master, defined contracts – if you don’t have that right then you really shouldn’t be looking at this right now,” Hatkins told panel attendees.

Get alignment with suppliers

The health system must align with suppliers on the minimum data set truly required for inclusion in the EDI order, as unnecessary data points add time, cost and complexity, and jeopardize protected health information (PHI). They must also agree on how data is formatted so it resides in the right fields for automated processing.

Panelist Jack Koczela, Director of Supply Chain Services, Froedtert Health, described how his team worked with each individual supplier to establish an agreed minimum data set, asking them: “What do you need and where do you need it in the EDI message?”

They settled on the general part information (e.g., vendor part number, price, unit of measure), the specific part information (e.g., lot, serial number), the code to identify the type of order (e.g., bill-only, bill-and-replace), and a “unique key” they could use to connect Froedtert Health and the supplier’s systems (e.g., case ID, sales order number).

Get it right the first time

Hatkins stressed the importance of investing time and resources into the upfront data build and system configuration to facilitate automation and avoid manual intervention. He compared the process to a just-in-time (JIT) inventory program, stating:

“If anyone has ever tried to run a JIT program with people touching and adjusting things, you know as well-intentioned as it is, it always creates massive amounts of exceptions. A JIT program needs to have a solid setup to run effectively. This needs a solid setup to run effectively. Not only that. You aren’t talking about cups and gauze, you’re talking about thousands and thousands of dollars. So, there is a cost component that must be right too.”

As Sagliocca told the panel presentation attendees: “This works, but you’ve got to put the work in up front.”

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