GE Healthcare Camden Group Insights Blog

The Smart Approach To Smart Technology: 3 Tips For Implementation

Posted by Matthew Smith on Jan 16, 2018 1:50:49 PM

By Don Martin, Senior Manager, GE Healthcare Partners

Introducing integrated smart infusion pump technology management into the clinical environment to drive medication safety measures is a strong step toward achieving – and sustaining – patient safety and quality outcomes.

In our case study “The Smart Approach to Smart Technology,” we discussed our collaboration with one of the nation’s largest non-for-profit healthcare systems to upgrade its aged fleet of Large Volume Infusion Pumps (LVIP) with newer generation units. These newer “smart” units are supported with medication safety software, orders integration, EMR documentation integration and RFID-aided asset management capabilities.

As the first healthcare organization in the nation to take a “Big Bang” approach to implementing this range of functionality and technology, the organization faced several challenges that required innovative and creative thinking – and a large dose of enthusiasm.

1. Begin with the end in mind

Create the vision and guiding principles that will drive your organization to the desired outcomes you want to achieve. Memorialize these principles in your project charter as well as in a multi-year strategic plan to guide implementation and post deployment optimization.

For our client, a guiding principle and desired outcome was to have metrics in place on Day One following activation supported by actionable data available to nursing staff to measure progress toward safer medication practices. This led to developing the integrated system, purchasing the appropriate software and ensuring the selected LVIP could support both. As a result, nursing managers now efficiently take high level compliance information and with the push of a few buttons, drill down to the actual instance and identifying the potential causes of the near miss. And they are able to trend the data and show compliance over time. This is one example of how beginning with the end in mind will lead to successful outcome.

Other insights gained from our experience include:

  • Senior leadership should revisit the project charter regularly with the project team and organizational stakeholders to avoid losing focus and footing as you proceed through implementation.
  • Take measures early in your pre-implementation planning activities to monitor and assess your organization’s willingness and readiness to embrace the clinical and operational changes this smart technology will bring to them. Continue to assess your team throughout activation and post-implementation.
  • Be careful not to misinterpret successful technical implementation progress as a sign your clinicians have made the transition to successful adoption. If you do not see the signs of growing pains among your staff as they prepare for this transition, it should raise a flag that they are not readily adopting the changes and opportunities this technology delivers.

2. Preparation is key

Every project manager will tell you that thorough preparation is the key to successful project execution as it moves from conceptual development to device deployment. In an ideal setting, preparation begins with establishing a solid governance structure and lines of accountability prior to establishing a selection committee for new devices, software and technical infrastructure.

One of the key milestones during the planning phase includes plans for a thorough impact analysis, which should be on file in advance, and leveraged during the early phases of the due diligence process. One lesson we learned first-hand is the importance of ensuring the project team engaged for the RFI process has access to key documents such as the project charter, business needs analysis and feasibility studies.

3. Mapping the implementation course

The formation and adoption of a clear implementation strategy at the project outset will provide the project team and key stakeholders with the necessary vision to successfully navigate a project of this scope and complexity. In this instance, our client’s leadership adopted the following strategic approaches at the project outset:

  • Map your implementation course to access organizational need and readiness with emphasis on safety and operational imperatives. In particular, investigate all areas of drug administration and look to expand the scope of pump integration to your entire line of infusion practices, including those that are done without technology (e.g., small volume, push, titration, free, flow).
  • Facilitate client and vendor collaboration with emphasis on total cost of ownership, impact on operational costs, and nurturing vendor partnerships aligned with broader sourcing strategies. Develop and foster broad, inter-disciplinary organizational engagement and commitment with focus on the drug library build and governance structures.
    MartinD.jpgMr. Martin is a senior manager with GE Healthcare Partners with more than 20 years of financial and clinical experience with operational responsibilities for patient care delivery, fiscal management, staff development and government, and regulatory compliance. His collaborative approach guides clients through the complex process of optimizing existing technology to meet healthcare’s Triple Aim: increase operational efficiency, improve the quality of patient care, and decrease the costs of care.

Topics: Pharmacy, Don Martin

Physician Preference Cards: An OR Director’s Key To Efficiency

Posted by Matthew Smith on Sep 1, 2017 3:27:57 PM

By Don Martin, Senior Manager, GE Healthcare Camden Group

Efficiency and cost management – the metrics by which OR Directors live and breathe. Data on First Case On Time Starts, cut to close times, room turnover, supply usage help administrators keep a close eye on how efficiently their perioperative suites are running. And among the tools every OR Director should use to ensure they’re running efficiently and profitably: physician preference cards.

Preference cards contain clear and concise procedural instructions that, when combined with an accurate record of needed supplies and equipment, prevent unnecessary delays and procedure interruptions. More importantly, they positively impact patient safety and quality by enabling the surgeon, nurses and technicians to focus exclusively on the patient. Preference cards improve surgeon satisfaction, instrumentation and supply inventory management, as well as staff orientation and training.

Discovering Value In Preference Card Data Mining

Physician preference cards provide another significant benefit. Taken together with supply usage data, preference card information becomes a vital source of data for uncovering valuable supply savings opportunities in the operating room. With surgical costs increasing and reimbursements decreasing, hospitals and physicians need to partner to find ways to contain and reduce costs – and a close-up inspection of supplies may deliver big rewards. The key to this effort begins with information – information that can transform simple data into an effective, actionable tool for driving practice change and cost reductions in the OR.

Costs Of Neglecting Preference Card Management

The majority of hospital surgery departments utilize electronic preference cards generated from their clinical information systems and all feature a catalog of surgical supplies and implants needed during a procedure. Hospital leaders at times make the assumption that those preference cards accurately reflect the supplies the surgeon will use during a case. Our experience tells us otherwise. Often we find supplies – sometimes a few, sometimes several – on each preference card that surgeons rarely if ever use. In fact, when we physically display items on a surgeon’s preference card for their review, many are surprised to find certain supplies were being pulled for their case.

Inaccurate and out-of-date preference cards result in real costs: Hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted supplies and labor jeopardize already thin contribution margins. Fortunately, corrective measures exist to solve this issue, but they require the combined efforts and commitment of OR Directors and surgeons.

Data Is Key To Improving Preference Cards

Relevant, actionable data enables staff and surgeons to quickly identify and evaluate efficiency and cost-savings opportunities. Unfortunately, we frequently hear surgeons say that throughout their years of practice, they have not received empirical data they can use to drive more efficient and cost-effective supply utilization practices.

Information drawn from physician preference cards and historical supply usage data supports surgeon-specific and comparative supply usage analysis. Let’s look at an example. Table 1 shows a partial list of supplies used by Dr. A in laparoscopic appendectomy cases. The highlighted items include supplies provided for the case but never used, or picked in insufficient quantities and requiring the staff to leave the OR to retrieve them during the case. Both represent opportunities for workflow efficiency and supply cost reduction. OR Directors can show surgeons this data and point out how poor preference card management results in case delays, supply waste, and lost time and effort moving unused supplies between the OR and storeroom. In doing so, they will likely gain allies in refining a more selective and efficient case cart build process.


Here’s another example. Table 2 shows comparative supply usage data across multiple surgeons for a common procedure. A supply analytic tool like this identifies opportunities to convert a surgeon to a clinically equivalent, lower-cost supply that his colleagues use to achieve similar outcomes. It also identifies opportunities to convert an entire group of surgeons to the same supply, enabling the organization to leverage volume purchasing as well as standardize products and reduce inventory variability. OR Directors can partner with their Supply Chain VP to include not only surgeon supply usage statistics, but also the average cost of supply expense per case for each of the surgeons in the analysis. This approach grabs attention and often motivates surgeons to dig deeper into the data to better understand the reasons behind the cost differences.


Our clients have discovered that presenting supply utilization data in this straight-forward and concise fashion invites surgeons to open a dialogue with the OR staff and with each other – leading to a renewed desire to pursue more efficient supply selection and consumption.

Our work with clients has shown us that achieving improved operational and financial results in the OR through effective physician preference cards requires significant effort and focus.

Non-Labor Expense Reduction

MartinD.jpgMr. Martin is a senior manager with GE Healthcare Camden Group with more than 20 years of financial and clinical experience with operational responsibilities for patient care delivery, fiscal management, staff development and government, and regulatory compliance. His collaborative approach guides clients through the complex process of optimizing existing technology to meet healthcare’s Triple Aim: increase operational efficiency, improve the quality of patient care, and decrease the costs of care.


Topics: Perioperative Services, Non-Labor Expense Reduction, Operating Room, Supply Chain, Physician Preference Cars, Don Martin

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