At first glance, the impact supply chain has directly on the patient experience may seem more obscure than unequivocal. Certainly, the supply chain often plays an important role in ensuring positive clinical outcomes—through proper vetting of new devices and holistic value analysis efforts, for example—and containing care costs, but these factors are often not characterized by HCAHPS or other patient satisfaction surveys. However, the supply chain can impact the patient experience in several positive ways
1. Cleanliness & Healthcare-Acquired Infections
Perceptions of a facility’s cleanliness can have a definite impact on the patient experience as well as satisfaction surveys, as cleanliness is one of the elements HCAHPS considers. Seemingly unsanitary conditions can cause patients to doubt the level of care they will receive, while pristine surroundings can feel reassuring. Outside of patient perception, environmental services can be an effective weapon to brandish against healthcare-acquired infections. By standardizing cleaning protocols and implementing solutions such as antimicrobial surfaces, UV light disinfection robots, or electronic hand hygiene systems, EVS can help lessen the occurrence of HAI-causing bacteria. Last, EVS is one of the ancillary functions of the facility frequently coming into contact with patients outside of the clinical staff. A friendly demeanor can be comforting to patients within the healthcare setting. With environmental services increasingly falling under supply chain oversight, EVS can be a vehicle through which the supply chain positively impacts patient satisfaction.
2. Disaster Relief & Epidemic Management
When disaster—either natural or manmade—strikes, supply chain preparedness is integral to the provider’s ability to respond to community needs. Having ample emergency supplies on hand, or advanced fulfillment logistics in place to acquire them will help clinicians deliver treatment in the case of a disaster. Additionally, insight into inventory locations and supply levels will enable the movement of supplies throughout the system as needed. For natural disasters, emergency stock can be planned based on geographical area and weather patterns.
A supply chain can be equally prepared for epidemic management by preparing for likely breakouts. Having the correct supplies on hand in advance to treat patients and leveraging pharmaceutical purchasing power to procure drugs are a few ways the supply chain can help.
3. Other Impacts on Patient Outcomes
The supply chain can affect clinical outcomes in other, more behind-the-scenes, ways as well. Effective management of inventory will provide clinicians with the right product at the right place at the right time, expediating care. Proper inventory visibility will also prevent expired products from making their way to the bedside. Last, over time, product standardization offers a legitimate opportunity for tracking clinical outcomes per treatment.
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