Driving efficiency in the OR with custom kitting — 5 takeaways

Surgical facilities face ongoing pressure to manage expenses, boost labor efficiency, increase caseload and improve patient care. Implementing a comprehensive, customized surgical kitting program that evolves with a facility can have a significant payoff.

During a June Becker's Hospital Review webinar, sponsored by Medline Industries, three leaders and kitting experts from Medline discussed how custom kitting, combined with data-driven consulting and ongoing process management, can affect a surgery center's bottom line: 

  • Daniel Charwath, senior marketing manager, SPT
  • Allison Ward, vice president of product management
  • Angela Carranza, manager of clinical resources

Five key takeaways: 

  1. Surgical centers often overlook the inefficiencies and complexities of getting products to and through a facility. Because managing supplies is a daily activity, many facilities assume the labor, time, money and waste that occurs is unavoidable. "From a cost perspective, it can be difficult to track what was actually used with so many items flowing in and out, which leads to difficulties with analyzing overall costs," Ms. Ward said.

  2. Surgical centers can benefit from using custom kits and focusing on the process around these kits. According to Ms. Ward, a custom surgical pack program — where a hospital or an ambulatory surgery center defines the exact items in each kit based on its procedures and surgeon and staff preferences — is "less about the physical items in the pack and more about the impact the contents within that surgical pack can have on the overall supply chain." It takes an average of eight steps to get an item from a vendor to an operating room. Each step offers an opportunity to save time, money and space. By carefully evaluating surgical volume, frequency-of-use preference, unit of measure and other data points, facilities can determine the right mix of items to place in a surgical pack and can maximize the efficiency of the process while reducing labor cost and inventory space.

  3. A comprehensive approach to custom kitting results in significant cost and time savings, freeing resources to take on additional procedures. By taking a comprehensive approach, surgical centers obtain a customized surgical kit along with other needed assemblies, such as a pre-op kit, anesthesia supplies or a turnover kit, in one complete package. "You will achieve dramatic increases in your supply chain and staff efficiency," Mr. Charwath said. A case study reviewing data from 12 facilities found that this approach reduced case pick time by 48 percent, setup time by 54 percent and inventory by 10 to 14 percent. In addition, it improved cost capture by 4 to 7 percent and increased space utilization by 15 to 20 percent.

  4. Data-driven clinical consulting is a key contributor to the overall success of a comprehensive kitting program. Benefits include customization at a facility, procedure or surgeon level and identification of industry best practices. In addition, clinical consulting minimizes surgical supply variance by capturing real-time surgical activity. "This helps us not only develop and tailor a program but do so with minimal disruption to the clinical process," Ms. Carranza said.

  5. Annual reviews and ongoing pack management allow surgical centers to maintain and adjust efficiencies over time. By conducting annual holistic reviews, surgical centers can ensure that key performance indicators are still relevant and can make adjustments. In addition, a desktop platform and a new app can help facilities use real-time data to manage an existing custom pack program. "The app version allows users to communicate changes, get quotes for new packs, see when new versions will arrive and report quality incidents immediately," Mr. Charwath said.

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