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Category: Supply Chain

How to Optimize Storage Spaces to Be More Efficient

Delivering high-quality healthcare depends on having tools and supplies available and ready to use when they are needed. But to provide access to the right supplies at the right moment, healthcare organizations must have those supplies stored properly with the right amount of inventory to avoid both waste and scarcity.

By optimizing their storage space, hospital leaders can effectively tackle the ongoing challenges of inventory and supply management, ensuring that their clinicians will always have access to the supplies they need to provide safe, efficient care. An important key to creating optimized storage spaces is choosing and using the right storage solutions.

High-Density Shelving

 Rather than relying on the traditional shelves and cabinets that may have been installed in your facility years ago, optimize your storage with high-density shelving. These systems are available in manual, mechanical-assist and electrically operated styles, depending on the type and weight of supplies to be stored.

High-density solutions can more than double your storage capacity or free up space for other uses,” says Catherine Adkins, project manager at Storage Systems Unlimited. “These systems maximize space utilization by eliminating aisles and compacting several storage cabinets or shelving systems into a much smaller amount of space. An aisle or access to your supplies is opened only when and where you need it by easily shifting entire rows of shelving.”

This type of shelving has become increasingly popular for optimizing storage space in all sorts of commercial buildings. Storage Systems Unlimited installs high-density storage solutions in hospitals as well as golf courses, college athletic departments, attorney offices and prisons.

Hanging Wire Baskets

Another powerful product for optimizing hospital storage space is the wall mount louvered panel, which can hold wire baskets. These panels with hanging wire baskets can drastically increase capacity and efficiency in supply rooms.

“By using the wire baskets, you eliminate most of the dust that can collect in plastic bins,” Adkins says. “The wire baskets allow for better line of sight for the nurses and supply chain staff when locating certain supplies.”

Many healthcare facilities use wire shelving, but that can create too much wasted space and lead to wasted resources. Supplies often fall behind the wire shelving and are not found until they have expired. Hanging wire baskets, on the other hand, reduce wasted space all around. The supplies cannot fall behind the louvered panels, so inventory control is much easier. Also, the baskets are available with modular dividers as well as label holders of various types and colors, all of which can help staffers keep supplies organized and readily seen.

Carts of All Types

Aside from shelving and cabinetry, carts are an important product for optimizing storage—and there is a wide variety of carts that can help hospitals better manage supplies. Crash carts are always popular, and hospitals are increasingly using in-room or bedside carts.

“Sometimes the supply room is not conveniently located to all exam rooms or patient areas, and having supplies at the bedside will improve patient experience and increase the time staff can spend with the patients,” Adkins says.

In addition, procedure-specific carts can be helpful during traumas or surgeries, when specific items are needed immediately. For example, these carts may be useful in an ER or OR with cases such as malignant hyperthermia, casting or difficult airways.

Computer carts enable safe, secure and efficient solutions by utilizing technology. Healthcare providers can improve data accuracy and patient safety by using computer carts to deliver high-quality patient care. And with point-of-care solution carts, caregivers can readily enter and access patient information by using secure technology at the patient’s bedside.

Storage Systems Unlimited offers 47 cart types, with dozens of variations for each type. Selecting and using the right carts can be a powerful solution for optimizing storage across your facility.

Customized Design

Because every healthcare facility has unique storage needs and available storage spaces, it can be helpful to utilize customized planning and design services for optimizing storage solutions. For example, Storage Systems Unlimited offers planning, design, installation and project management—and, by leveraging long-standing relationships with numerous manufacturers, can mix and match carts and solutions from various manufacturers to meet the needs of each department.

“We aim to be a one-stop shop for material managers and supply chain managers for hospitals, surgery centers and private physician groups across the United States,” Adkins says. “Our ability to customize any shelf, table or cart ensures that we are providing exactly what the end user wants at very competitive pricing.”

With more than 40 years of experience providing customized storage solutions, Storage Systems Unlimited is able to give recommendations for the entire floor plan in a brand-new hospital and provide consulting on revamping existing storage space that needs to be reshaped or updated.

Six Benefits of Organization

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.

Health on Wheels: How Medical Carts Are Transforming Care Delivery

Timely and efficient delivery is an essential component of high-quality healthcare—and that delivery can benefit from access to a good set of wheels.

Medical carts of all shapes, sizes and functionalities are transforming healthcare delivery at a pivotal time when nursing departments, emergency departments and surgery centers are struggling to do more with less. In the face of nursing shortages, increased expectations and overworked staffs, carts ease the strain while boosting productivity. Most important, they facilitate positive patient outcomes.

When minutes or even seconds count, an optimized workflow is invaluable. Carts significantly reduce wasted time and wasted energy by giving clinicians instant access to the instruments, medications, supplies and information they need to do their jobs effectively. In ERs and ORs, particularly, the difference is potentially lifesaving as well as load lightening.

What a Good Cart Can Do for You

Today’s best healthcare is integrated, collaborative and timely. It crosses disciplines, it demands the sharing of vital information, and it responds appropriately to the urgency of the situation. It also is becoming increasingly mobile and flexible—adapting in real time, when necessary, to confront new challenges that arise.

Rolling medical carts and workstations are up to the challenge of providing responsive and portable care, expanding the range of diagnostic and treatment possibilities when space or other resources may be at a premium. When staff have on hand everything they and their patients need, they avoid making multiple time- and labor-consuming trips across the facility to obtain supplies or information.

Whatever the need, simple or complex, if it’s related to healthcare delivery, there’s probably a cart that can be easily integrated into the workflow. From transporting items to connecting stakeholders, carts reduce delays and eliminate gaps. Technology-enabled carts can increase communication and collaboration across locations. (Telehealth works, as the pandemic forced providers, patients and payers to acknowledge.) Those involved in a patient’s care can share information in real time, wherever they are, with nurses and physicians recording digital notes immediately at bedside. Clinicians now have tools that allow them to observe patients remotely and make assessments that guide their treatment. Similarly, a patient’s family can meet virtually with the care team and specialists. The right cart can help make it all possible.

Determining the Right Cart for You

So what cart is right for you? Whatever your situation, you want a cart that is:

  • Built for your specific needs. Customization is key to equipping your facility with the carts that will best meet your healthcare requirements. What kind of drawers, bins or other storage do you need? Are you looking for versatility or specialization? Do you need digital technology support for capturing and communicating real-time information?
  • Easy to transport. If mobility is important, you want wheels and casters that roll smoothly, getting your cart to where it needs to be as smoothly as possible.
  • Easy to access. For those who are authorized, easy access—to medicine, supplies, electric power, computer applications, information—is a must. Carts can be equipped with power sources and with software that manages access and permissions and tracks activity.
  • Safe and secure. The same tools that allow access by those who need it can keep out those who do not, protecting patients and limiting risk.
  • Durable, ergonomically designed, space conscious and easy to clean. Carts should be rugged enough for everyday use, designed for safe and efficient use, convenient to store, and a snap to keep clean and disinfected.

Whether you need medication carts, anesthesia carts, isolation carts, crash carts, bedside or point-of-care carts, IV fluid carts, endoscopy carts, supply or utility carts, you want a product you can rely on time after time. Even better, you want a supplier who is ready to help you define and meet your needs, from supply delivery to diagnosis and testing, from emergency response and infection control to facilitating prescriptions and discharge documents. Your staff and your patients deserve to experience the transformation that the right cart can bring to high-quality healthcare delivery.

At Storage Systems Unlimited, we offer a wide array of carts from manufacturers including Armstrong Medical, Blickman, Capsa Healthcare, Harloff, Innerspace by Solaire Medical, InterMetro, Lakeside, MASS, Quantum, TouchPoint Medical and Waterloo. We are your One-Stop Shop for storage-related products for every healthcare application: shelving, workstations, cabinets, plastic products, stainless steel and more. Contact us at 1-888-614-0004 or visit storagesystemsul.com to learn more or request a quote.

Sourcing Solutions: How Supply Chain Can Help Drive Better Patient Outcomes

You’ve heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child. Similarly, it takes a diverse assortment of participants to care for a patient. And the supply chain is poised to wield perhaps unprecedented influence in that big picture.

The group of stakeholders involved in the enablement and delivery of healthcare is wide-ranging. It includes hospitals and health systems; physicians, nurses and other clinicians; insurance companies; group purchasing organizations; and various levels of regulatory agencies. We could expand the list even more to include the architects, contractors, equipment planners and suppliers involved in the construction, renovation or equipping of healthcare facilities. All play a vital role, whether it is for a limited time or ongoing.

Passing through all these entities is the supply chain, which an article in RevCycleIntelligence defined as generally referring to “the resources needed to deliver goods or services to a consumer”—in healthcare, a patient. The patient, of course, is a consumer, and today’s healthcare consumer has higher expectations for both outcomes and overall experiences.

Hospitals and healthcare systems are feeling pressure on multiple fronts, including:

  • The need to deliver better, more integrated care along with lower costs
  • The move toward value-based care
  • The rising cost of healthcare, including medications and medical devices
  • A focus on comparative effectiveness, product safety, vetting of suppliers, and ensuring policies and processes are followed

Leaders and influencers of healthcare organizations are increasingly looking to follow the lead of other industries in deploying supply chain management as a key weapon for achieving quality, safety, cost and other goals. As these organizations strive to provide more holistic, longitudinal care with smoother transitions between facilities and from facility to home, they need solutions that cross organizational and functional lines. Supply chain and materials managers for hospitals and systems, as well as their GPO partners, must discover ways to improve what has often been a fragmented process full of complications and inefficiencies that can negatively affect patient outcomes.

“The supply chain is becoming more involved in sourcing solutions, not just products,” Eugene Schneller, professor of supply chain management at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, told RevCycleIntelligence. By becoming more actively involved in the delivery of care as well as products, the supply chain can help to ensure that providers and patients have what they need when they need it, without the waste that so often contributes to higher costs.

It All Leads to the Patient

According to Pathstone Partners, a Chicago-based management consulting firm, health systems can use supply chain management and optimization to achieve the goals of providing high-quality care, reducing cost and ensuring service ability. This happens “through improved data collection and employment, attentive vendor management, and incentive alignment.”

With access to real-time, centralized data, hospitals and systems can capture and respond to demand for products and services, eliminate waste and redundancy, take advantage of price reductions, optimize utilization and establish standards. Supply chain management in healthcare, Pathstone adds, “plays a critical role in improving patient outcomes to achieve reimbursement through incentive alignment.”

While technology is essential to this pursuit, so are more human elements such as building long-standing relationships and trust through communication. By establishing such relationships with vendors, healthcare organizations can benefit from responsiveness to customer needs, attention to details, seamless projects, and customization—benefits that affect every department within a facility.

Jan de Vries and Robbert Huijsman’s overview of research on supply chain management in health services pointed out lessons that the health sector could learn from the industrial sector. The authors recommend research into the effective use of information technology, the influence of and relationships between different stakeholders, the use of performance metrics, and special attention to the specifics of services.

A guest post in Becker’s Hospital Review characterizes physician leadership as “the missing link” in the supply chain. It suggests that physician involvement could help manufacturers identify “truly promising technologies” as opposed to incremental (but costly) improvements of existing technologies, helping to overcome barriers to the introduction of new products that could lead to improved patient outcomes and reduced costs.

From prescription medications to personal protective equipment, from syringes to electronic medical records, from endoscopes to storage and transport solutions, the supply chain is indispensable to the day-to-day operations of any healthcare facility. By capturing and harnessing actionable data on products and services; flexing the collective clout of GPOs; and connecting with dependable, responsive, trustworthy partners who understand your needs and are committed to a long-term relationship, the supply chain can enhance its ability to make a difference in providing superior patient outcomes while reducing costs.

At Storage Systems Unlimited, we understand supply chain dynamics and the need for an integrated approach to better healthcare. We are your One-Stop Shop for storage-related products for every healthcare application, including carts, shelving, workstations, cabinets, plastic products, stainless steel and more. Contact us at 1-888-614-0004 or visit storagesystemsul.com to learn more or request a quote.