We Are One, Now What? Streamlining Continuum of Care Integration

Posted:11/14/18 5:07 PM

As a nurse with experience working in different healthcare settings, the primary goal was always the same – take care of the healthcare consumer. Yet the way in which the goal was achieved was often different, depending on the setting.

Every setting in the continuum of care meets a specific care delivery need – from acute care to extended care to hospice care – and every point along the way. Because each type of care is different, each point of care has unique characteristics and requirements.

Health systems have made great strides in determining ways to provide services to consumers at each point of the continuum of care, but it hasn’t been easy. In fact, integration has been tough! Because of the unique characteristics that each care delivery setting has, communication alone is challenging. When health systems start examining IT systems, delivery requirements, unique medical supplies, regulations, reimbursement, staffing, training and other areas, providing consistent, high quality care can seem like a monumental task. Yet it’s more important than ever that health systems can collaborate amongst all points of care by treating the system as a whole while understanding the uniqueness of each segment. The good news is that health systems don’t have to navigate the continuum of care alone!

The healthcare supply chain plays a vital role in ensuring that clinicians in all care settings have the right supplies and services to provide care when it’s needed. Having a supply chain partner who understands the entire continuum of care and can provide streamlined and customized service to the health system will be beneficial as health systems continue to integrate. Here’s what you can expect from a full-service supply chain partner.

Continuity of Service
While the fundamentals of medical supply distribution are the same, regardless of delivery point, there are some key differences that need to be understood. Having a strategy to provide streamlined supply chain services while also recognizing and planning for variation can be accomplished when health systems and supply chain partners work together.

When a distributor has expertise in servicing all points of the care continuum, many efficiencies can be gained. The delivery process alone can provide consistencies as the distributor becomes familiar with the needs of all the entities throughout the health system and can provide insight into how the overall process can be more efficient. In addition, they have solutions, processes and best practices customized for each point of care.

While this is important, the biggest asset is the account management team. Having team members working together that are experts in each point of care brings a level of collaboration to the relationship that promotes idea sharing and focus on common goals. When we focus on common goals, we can accomplish more and get better results.

Inventory Collaboration
Want to provide clinicians with peace of mind? Make sure that they have the supplies they need to take care of their patients. Having the right medical products enables healthcare providers to spend more time providing the right care. This task gets more complicated when you have multiple care settings.

Product standardization can provide many benefits. Using the same product throughout the health system can ensure that each point of care is meeting clinical product standards. In addition, a health system can save time and money by reducing the number of Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) and obsolescence. At the same time, different points of care may require unique products in order to deliver specific types of service. This can make standardization more cumbersome.

When a supply chain partner services all points of care, they work with many manufacturers and suppliers. This helps to ensure there is a wide variety of products that support standardization and meet the needs of all providers. By understanding the characteristics of each point of care, it’s possible to provide products in the right units of measure so that providers can deliver care without excess inventory. By supporting standardization and customization, supply chain partners offer health systems the comfort of knowing they will have the right product mix and support.

Pricing Optimization 
Pricing – it’s a key function of supply chain and drives many decisions. There are multiple aspects of supply chain that influence price. When a partner is servicing the entire continuum of care, many efficiencies can be gained through pricing optimization.

Contract management requires detailed focus and time. Understanding all the contracts and tier levels available and determining which ones to utilize is complicated enough. Monitoring the contracts to make sure you are getting the pricing you need and reconciling differences adds a complexity of its own. When you have a supply chain partner that is servicing the entire health system, they are able to view the system as a whole and assist in contract penetration and price parity initiatives. 

Data Visibility
Health systems have access to data for just about anything they want to track. For supply chain, having good data is important because it drives many efficiencies.

Even though data is available, a day in healthcare is unpredictable – with many unexpected twists and turns. It’s often challenging to find time to focus on analyzing and responding to data. Receiving data from multiple sources can make the process even more cumbersome. Imagine how much time you could save if you were able to receive consistent data in a streamlined, customized manner. That’s exactly what you can expect from a supply chain partner that is servicing your entire health system.

Health systems continue working to provide consumers with consistent access to high quality care throughout the entire continuum. Choosing a supply chain partner that understands the importance of customized standardization will be an important part of the integration strategy. Concordance Healthcare Solutions strives to improve the health of the communities we serve by focusing on the entire continuum of care. Contact us to learn more.

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