How focusing on supply chain can pay off globally

By Medline Newsroom Staff | August 30, 2019

Whether they’re in rural towns or metropolitan areas, care providers all have the same basic needs. Foremost is having the right tools at the right time to deliver the best care possible. Kinks or delays in the process, though common around the world, can especially hinder care in resource-challenged settings, where staff and infrastructure are limited and need is high.

“In a place where care is needed the most, if organization is at an all-time low, the ability to provide efficient care can be tremendously difficult,” said Michael Redler, an American orthopedic surgeon.

Redler is among the volunteer clinicians at the Holy Family Surgical Center in Honduras, operated by the nonprofit One World Surgery (OWS). There, they’ve seen firsthand the challenges low-resource nations face in delivering care, and the impact supply chain improvements can have on the speed, accessibility and standard of care patients receive.

Hastening the speed of care

Before supply chain experts at Medline began working with OWS, staff members struggled to track and organize the multitude of supplies they received. Like many nonprofits, they received a wealth of donations year round, but didn’t have the resources to accurately track how much and what kinds of donations they had.

Without a system in place, it wasn’t uncommon for clinicians like Dr. Redler to spend copious time looking for supplies, or waiting on others to deliver what was needed. But once Medline began, in 2018, to implement a 3-phase plan to better manage and track inventory, things started to change.

Along with Dr. Redler, staff members like Lily Rivera started seeing the impact of Medline’s supply chain solutions over time; they started spending less time searching for equipment and had more time to spend with patients.

“Before, we cared or gave consultation to twenty patients a day and currently we see forty to fifty because everything is in place, and everything is easily available,” Rivera said.

Standardizing care

As part of its supply chain solution, Medline standardized what OWS could request and receive in donations. Before standards were in place, OWS had multiple varieties of supplies on hand, including over 300 SKUs for sutures alone.

Medline’s approach is helping them streamline their overall inventory, and get rid of supplies they don’t need or use. The process so far has freed over 1000 square-feet of space and, according to Redler, made it easier not just for one person but for everyone to find what they need.

“The level of organization that we have now allows us to get through cases more efficiently,” Redler said. “People know where things are, even people who haven’t been here can figure it out based on the system that’s in place.”

Getting clinicians exactly what they need

Standardization has also helped the facility to know exactly what its clinicians use and what to request from its donors. OWS is using that knowledge to simplify their ordering process for their staff and to avoid delivery of supplies that could end up as waste.

“When things are standardized, we can tell anybody, ‘If you want to give us [something], give us this because this is what we’re using,’” Medical Director Merlin Antunez, said. “If we are going to request for a donation, or if we are going to organize stuff, we want to standardize everything.”

Collectively the small steps Medline, OWS and its volunteers have made to improve clinicians’ ability to care for patients, will ultimately impact not only them but their families, community and even the economy as a whole, Redler says.

“The small act of performing a surgery that can get someone back to their more regular activities, like their work, their sport or whatever, may affect many, many people beyond that patient and that’s the whole concept of global health–if you can raise the bar of what the minimum level of health care is on a global basis, then you’re going to help that society as a whole.”

Learn about what Medline is doing to elevate health systems globally.

Categories: Social Responsibility, Supply Chain

Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline's newsroom staff researches and reports on the latest news and trends in healthcare.

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