Healthcare systems already are dealing with significant shortages of nurses, potentially compromising patient care and leaving nurses vulnerable to stress and burnout. It can be a vicious cycle, with shortages putting pressure on existing staff to take up the slack of absent colleagues.
Hospital executives have rightly prioritized attracting and retaining competent nursing staff, but providers are competing for a shrinking pool of applicants as the nursing population ages. At first glance, efficiency gains in the supply chain, particularly in materials management, may seem an odd place to assuage a nursing shortage.
However, shifting the ordering of surgical supplies from nurses to non-clinicians keeps nurses practicing more to the top of their licenses and helps put the focus back on patients. This can be accomplished by integrating a health systems enterprise resource planning (ERP) system’s material management solution to its electronic medical records (EMR) system. Ancillary benefits include more realistic stock levels and reduced waste of outdated products.
One Less Duty For Overburdened Nurses
Recently, CHI Health Good Samaritan hospital in Kearney, Neb., closed its in-patient transitional care unit (TCU). The reason? A systemic nursing shortage.
“Our TCU provides exceptional care and the staff are amazing; however, we simply need more of them,” CEO Michael Schnieders told a local media outlet. “For a while now we’ve been unable to fill open nursing positions.” When the article was published, the hospital had a nursing staff of 530 and 26 openings.
How much time does the nursing staff in your health system spend tracking supplies, ordering surgical supplies for a particular procedure on a particular day or setting up surgical trays for tomorrow’s surgeries? Integrating the ERP to the EMR with Tribridge EMR Connector and using our Materials Management solution open up windows of information that make supply ordering easier and ease the burden on nursing staff. These ordering functions can be performed by materials management staff and supervised by nurses, rather than nurses being responsible for inventory.
Customers who have used integrated materials management report higher job satisfaction among nurses. With an integrated system, a charge nurse can preview upcoming surgeries and create pick lists of the materials and devices needed. Such information could include a patient identifier, surgery date, surgeon, patient allergy information and specialized supplies/devices that may be unique to that surgeon. Specialized pick lists can be saved and reused or adapted in the future, saving additional time.
Once the pick list is complete, that information is transmitted to materials management staff, which is responsible for procurement, pulling supplies from inventory and replenishing surgical trays. Nurses then would check that the supplies were pulled correctly, rather than doing it themselves. As a result of more accurate ordering, organizations can reduce costs by maintaining optimal inventory levels, reducing overstock and wastage of expired items. Not only can providers reduce the time spent on purchasing activities, they can track, report and account for supplies across multiple locations/facilities in a centralized company database.
Attracting and retaining nursing staff may be an ancillary—yet critical—part of linking your EMR and your ERP.