Every day, thousands of items are used in a hospital by various staff members. Some materials must be sterile, and some need to be secured. Others must be in close proximity to the operating room, must be cleaned regularly or need to be readily available to clinicians.
Organization is the key to managing all this varied inventory and keeping track of individual requirements. However, many hospitals and healthcare organizations struggle to establish and maintain an organized system. In many cases, instruments and supplies are crammed into small spaces that are cramped, unorganized and difficult to access. When doctors and nurses have to spend time searching for the items they need, that means less time providing care to their patients.
Creating a plan for organizing hospital supplies and instruments can provide important benefits for hospital staff and patients. Consider these six valuable benefits of organization.
1 | Better Inventory Knowledge
An effective organization system includes inventory tracking. Knowing what you have makes for a more efficient supply chain and limited waste. When hospital supplies are unorganized, there is often a tendency to overstock in an effort to compensate for potential stockout situations—and extra supplies translate into even more overcrowded, unorganized spaces.
On the other hand, when hospitals have an organized supply and replenishment system in place, material managers can quickly gain visibility into current inventory and potential needs.
2 | Increased Efficiency
When supplies are organized and always available in the right place, hospital staff don’t have to use their time searching for the items they need to care for patients. Organization results in better time management and more efficient outcomes.
The healthcare industry is increasingly focused on doing more, doing it more efficiently and doing it with fewer resources, as evidenced by the new Certified Lean Healthcare Professional (CLHP) designation, says Catherine Adkins, project manager at Storage Systems Unlimited. To earn the designation, healthcare professionals must demonstrate proficiency in various topics including creating a lean culture, understanding process flow, improving process flow, building flow charts, reducing waste, eliminating delays and errors, managing process flow using Kanban, monitoring lean processes, following the principles of lean leadership, and initiating a program of continuous improvement.
For many healthcare providers, designing and implementing an organization system for supplies is the first step toward building a leaner hospital.
3 | Improved Patient Care
Streamlining the organization of instruments and supplies doesn’t just make staffers’ jobs easier; it also improves patient care—and patient satisfaction scores.
“From a patient’s perspective, they want to be comfortable and see cleanliness and organization,” Adkins says. “They want the staff to be calm and confident versus frantic and lost. They also want their nurse or doctor to have immediate access to the instruments and tools they need to provide the necessary care and, in some cases, save their life.”
4 | Patient Safety and Regulatory Compliance
When supplies are unorganized, hospitals often over-order supplies because they are unsure about their inventory levels. But with too much supply on hand, some of those supplies will expire before they can be used. And poor organization, clutter and a lack of visibility make it difficult to keep track of when those supplies expire—which can become a liability for the hospital. Using expired supplies can endanger patient safety and make hospitals noncompliant with regulations.
An efficient organization and supply replenishment system, on the other hand, can help ensure that hospitals have just the right amount of supplies at any given time, and that the supplies on hand will be used before they expire.
5 | Sterile Storage
Regulatory agencies require hospitals to carefully monitor the storage of sterile supplies to avoid contamination. But when hospitals don’t have an effective system for organizing and tracking supplies, meeting those standards can be difficult. A standardized organization system can automate the process of monitoring and guaranteeing sterile storage compliance.
6 | Simplified Staff Training
Consistent organization within a healthcare system helps create systematic processes, and the system can use these processes to train new hires and maintain consistency for travel nurses rotating within the same system or even within the same hospital, Adkins says.
“Healthcare providers are seeking to collaborate with suppliers in new ways to address system integration, industry consolidation and economic pressures,” she says. “Pressure on margins for hospitals is intensifying and may require creative cost management solutions to sustain procurement in the short term as well as the long term. Eliminating wasted product and time is critical to the success of a hospital.”
At Storage Systems Unlimited, we provide all storage-related products for every healthcare department with a choice of multiple manufacturers. We also offer preferred pricing, planning, design, installation and project management for healthcare organization and storage systems. Contact us at 1-888-614-0004 or visit storagesystemsul.com to learn more or request a quote.