This blog will explore the common issues providers face when managing surgical supplies in operating rooms and procedural areas.
We identify the three technologies that are proving to be a gamechanger for surgical supply data collection in these critical settings.
This blog covers:
- Common challenges managing operating room inventory
- The vital stages of surgical supply documentation
- The value of surgical supply usage data in operational workflows
- How is image recognition and AI being used for point of care utilization?
- The 3 winning technologies for OR surgical supply documentation
- Award-winning Snap&Go
Common challenges managing operating room inventory
Healthcare providers have ongoing challenges when it comes to documenting surgical utilization.
The operating room and procedural room setting is known to be a difficult data collection point in any healthcare facility. This is down to a combination of the large and complex range of inventory, as well as the limitations of existing systems.
According to our customers, the issues below are the main challenges faced by healthcare providers when trying to manage inventory at the point of care.
|Traditional point-of-use systems commonly fail to cope with the complexity of collecting data from all types of surgical inventory. Data capture is an issue, with nurses often having to plow through multiple screens to fix the data collected, or to manually enter items if they weren’t successfully captured by scanners.
|When the point of use system doesn’t integrate with core hospital systems, the data becomes siloed. Systems that aren’t interoperable require the nurse to make duplicate entries into multiple systems. This is not only time consuming and frustrating, but the greater the volume of data keyed in, the higher the likelihood of errors.
|Source of Truth
|Nurses frequently resort to one-time entries for products not included in the item master, leading to a repetitive cycle of manual inputting for regularly used, but unlisted items. This highlights the limitations of relying on the local item catalog, which often fails to keep up to date with new stock items and coding changes.
|Providers use a range of inventory, including owned stock, consignment inventory, and bill-only products, such as trunk inventory. Many of these items will not be preloaded into the system, necessitating an elongated documentation process.
|Lack of OR Data
|Ineffective data collection systems for operating room supply management disrupt crucial internal processes, including hospital supply chain management and medical billing. The lack of clear inventory vision, coupled with inaccurate/incomplete consumption data, impedes the smooth-running of operational workflows, and clouds management’s understanding of OR realities.
These same issues come up time and again when we discuss medical supplies inventory management with all types of healthcare providers across the globe.
The stages of surgical supply documentation
The operating room is a vital data collection point for healthcare management, so ensuring all reportable and billable items are recorded is an important task.
Many existing surgical supply documentation systems fail to provide the streamlined data collection process that providers need.
Let’s break down the process of surgical documentation into three stages, and consider some of the things that go wrong at each stage.
- Item Capture: Providers use a variety of methods to enter products into the system. It may be a manual keying-in job, QR codes, RFID tags, barcode scanning, or a mixture of these.
Operating rooms and procedural areas carry a complex range of inventory and traditional data collection methods are all too often incapable of capturing all relevant data, from every reportable item used in surgery.
- Item Identification: When each item is keyed-in or scanned, it is referenced against the hospital’s catalog list, prior to processing.
As stated earlier, many nurses overcome this problem by using a ‘one-time’ entry, but this process means that the item remains unlisted, so nurses will need to manually enter that item every single time, which is hardly the intention of a ‘one-time’ entry!
- Item Documentation: Many systems are ‘stand-alone’ and do not integrate with core hospital systems. This is a major issue as data from OR needs to feed into organizational workflows. Lack of interoperability leads to duplicate data entry.
These three key stages of surgical supply documentation are the foundation of an effective point of use supply utilization system.
The value of surgical supply usage data in operational workflows
Let’s take a quick look at why it’s so important to get accurate utilization data from OR and procedural labs.
OR Revenue: Utilization data ensures that revenue cycle management (RCM) is optimized with medical billing listing every consumed product along with the correct charge.
Inventory Management: OR product usage data helps hospitals to optimize inventory levels. By understanding the consumption patterns of medical supplies, hospitals can reduce excess stock, minimize stock wastage, improve product standardization, and ensure that essential items are consistently available when needed.
Patient Safety: Accurate data ensures that medical devices and supplies are used within recommended guidelines, reducing the risk of errors, contamination, and adverse events during surgical procedures. Full and accurate records with a searchable batch history also ensure smooth improved patient safety and recall management.
Management Data: Hospital management need to have a clear understanding of how their second largest area of expenditure is being managed. They need data to help them tackle areas of inefficiency, drive through cost reductions, support compliance, audit standards, patient safety and the delivery of top-quality care.
OR and procedure room data is business intelligence which supports optimum healthcare performance.
Summary of the issues at the point of care
So, now we understand the common product utilization data collection issues in the surgical setting, and also know the organizational impact.
After gaining a better understanding of the challenges for surgical supply reporting at the point of care and identifying the limitations of existing systems and processes, we realized that it was time to break the cycle of inefficiency. So, we set to work designing a new approach to surgical supply data collection.
The result is Snap&Go, which uses a mix of advanced technologies and tackles all of the common problems that providers typically experience.
This new healthcare technology offers a fresh, modern approach that makes barcode scanners look like relics, and heralds a new era of surgical consumption data collection.
The image to data revolution is here.
It’s time to discover Snap&Go.
Three technology essentials for accurate point of use documentation
Let’s start by looking at the technology behind Snap&Go. What makes it so different? How can a once longwinded and inaccurate task become such a quick and precise process?
Advanced technology can fit in with existing clinical workflows, while reducing the steps needed to gain accurate surgical supply records.
So, let’s review the three stars of point of care supply documentation:
1. Image recognition technology is a gamechanger. Computer vision is able to capture information on the entire packet or label and is no longer barcode dependent.
Nurses always feed back how barcodes can be an issue – there are usually multiple barcode labels so it’s trial and error to discover the one you need. There may be readability issues, and what about all those products that arrive without their packet, or don’t contain a barcode.
Image recognition is a valuable businesses tools that facilitates the automation of tasks that are typically carried out by staff. The automated task becomes a low labor, more accurate way of working.
Computer vision technology automatically identifies items from their digital image. It works in conjunction with artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms.
2. AI and machine learning are used by the managing software in order to learn data patterns and process inventory data. It also helps to analyze data and generate meaningful insights and trends.
AI software is like the brain of the system. It quickly performs complex tasks with greater precision than humans. Algorithms are able to analyze data and identify patterns. The system ‘learns’ as it obtains more data, so that it becomes extremely useful for highlighting areas of inefficiency and supporting informed data-driven planning.
Frost & Sullivan predicts that by 2025, AI systems will be used in 90% of US and 60% of global hospitals and insurance groups.
3. Virtual item master is a cloud-based SKU database that typically gathers data from worldwide customers and provides multiple organizations with a single source of truth. The benefit is that individual providers gain a greater pool of regularly updated catalog information.
A big benefit of a virtual item master (VIM) is that the dynamic data is centrally managed but collaboratively populated and updated. This means that the data is far more likely to keep track with new products and item data changes. At the user level, it significantly improves the ability to automatically identify items at the point of care.
How is image recognition and AI being used in point of care software?
Image recognition, AI and machine learning technology, plus access to a global, SKU database is the winning combination that the healthcare sector has been waiting for.
Finally, an efficient way to achieve 100% item documentation and charge capture in the EHR.
Let’s go back to the three essential stages of surgical supply documentation and see how Snap&Go performs under each criteria.
- Item Capture: Snap&Go captures all the required data on every single product, whether it’s a stock item, consignment inventory, or bill-only product.
How it works: The nurse simply needs to place the product packet or label under the computer vision sensor. Image recognition technology ‘reads’ the image, and in just 3 seconds all relevant data (such as UDI, batch number, expiry date), is captured. Handwritten implant sheets can also be ‘read’ and digitally documented.
- Item Identification: With Snap&Go, identifying the products captured in surgery no longer relies on the hospital item master.
How it works: All items that aren’t recognized locally are referenced against a globally populated SKU database that worldwide customers are updating every time they ‘snap’ an item. This finally ends the reliance on local item masters, which are so difficult to maintain. Should an item not be recognized, then our human back-office team will deal with any exceptions.
IDENTI also provides the healthcare provider with a report on all items recorded by Snap&Go, that were missing, or incorrectly recorded in the local item master – ensuring the ongoing maintenance of the local item master by hospital staff.
- Item Documentation: Full interoperability with hospital systems ensures consumption data is shared promptly with core hospital systems.
How it works: Seamless integration between Snap&Go and the ERP, EMR and MMIS ensures the prompt transfer of the vital OR data that drives through so many operational and administrative processes.
Snap&Go’s innovative approach to solving the inventory documentation challenges of healthcare provides is being recognized as breakthrough technology.
Last year Snap&Go received a New Product Innovation Award for Operating Room Inventory Management Solutions Industry from Frost and Sullivan. This award recognizes companies that, “consolidate their leadership positions by innovating and creating new products, solutions, and services that meet ever-evolving customer needs.”
This year Snap&Go was awarded Vizient Innovation Technology Designation. Kelly Flaharty, Vizient Senior Director of Contract Services stated, “Health care experts on Vizient customer-led councils evaluated SNAP&GO as part of the Innovative Technology Program. This designation indicates SNAP&GO has one or more qualities that differentiates it from similar products and has potential to make an incremental improvement in health care. Congratulations to IDENTI Medical.”
We’re proud to receive recognition from Frost & Sullivan and Vizient for our cutting-edge and innovative technology.
See what a former Director of Perioperative Services had to say about the challenges of OR surgical supply documentation, and how Snap&Go offers a solution to all of these issues.
The use of image recognition, AI and machine learning break the cycle of inadequate point-of-use systems.
Finally, there is a custom-solution for the surgical setting that simply gets the job done.
Getting the right healthcare inventory management system in place, including at the point of care, is crucial for the precision management of inventory in healthcare.