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Healthcare's Cottage Supply Chain Needs a Makeover

Mike Alkire, for HealthLeaders Media, August 19, 2011

One way to achieve this is through "sourcing to specification." Essentially, this program flips the purchasing dynamic so providers aren't just buying what's available. Instead, we are working to engage physicians and other clinical experts to develop the necessary, evidence-based specifications for new product design based on the ability to improve outcomes. Through this program, providers are sharing their collective expertise and the clinical evidence with manufacturers so that the end result is a product that is better, more effective and optimized to produce the best outcome for their patient mix.

Consider an example from Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

Statistics show that up to 65% percent of premature infants develop an infection during their hospitalization because their skin and membranes are underdeveloped. Typically, that information would be collected by and remain with clinical teams in a hospital. It may be used to design new infection treatment protocols or process interventions, for instance.

But Cincinnati Children's did something more. It worked with a manufacturer to design a new positioner for their preemie population -- one that would prevent the skin breakdowns that lead to infections from occurring in the first place, by using new materials that were gentler on the baby's skin. By bringing together clinicians and manufacturers to collaborate on product design, a new type of positioner was created that reduced instances of skin breakdown by 68%. And this new, better positioner is 33% less expensive than the old model.

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