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Healthcare transportation: An overlooked opportunity

Clearly there is mounting pressure on healthcare executives to do more with less: to get the highest value out of every system initiative, program or function — without sacrificing service, quality or safety.

Healthcare transportation—while often overlooked—drives impactful cost savings to support the strategic objectives of a healthcare system. Think about it: patient- and business-critical materials, such as patient specimens, pharmaceuticals, supplies and medical records, are transported to and from multiple touch points within healthcare organizations. This transport is operationally important because nearly everything that occurs within a given health system depends on transportation, which directly impacts the quality of patient care.

Nonetheless, many healthcare organizations make department-level transportation decisions. The result can be overlapping internal and multiple third-party courier services. Disconnected networks like these cause delays, increase loss and affect the chain of care. In addition, internally run or third party delivery services often receive little management attention, resulting in limited quality control and/or insufficient tools for maximum performance.

Despite the nominal attention paid to healthcare transportation, there are hidden opportunities to increase value and reduce risk including:

• Cost efficiencies
• Centralization
• Standardization
• Error reduction
• Technology maximization
• Management reporting for strategic decision-making
• System connectivity
• Analytics platform that enables growth

How is transportation at your organization being handled? How effective and efficient is it? How much is being spent between the various departments and locations? A beneficial way to get these answers is through conducting a transportation effectiveness diagnostic.

Conducting a transportation effectiveness diagnostic requires that you examine the entire scope of your organization’s transportation, department-by-department, to create a big-picture view of your current activities, including service requirements, means of service, service results and cost benchmarks.

You need to engage key staff from all departments involved in transporting patient- and business-critical materials, such as patient specimens, pharmaceuticals and supplies, and focus especially on:

• An analysis of route data, including geographic scope, service levels and turnaround requirements;
• Logs of on-demand and other expensive, error-prone activity;
• Third-party invoices;
• Service results and end-user satisfaction scores;
• Operational processes and best practices, including the use of technology;
• Costs

To ensure that the scope of the assessment expands beyond transportation and includes an in-depth analysis that takes organization-wide requirements and issues into account, consider partnering with an organization that focuses on healthcare transportation.

For the greatest effectiveness, be sure that a healthcare transportation analysis includes clear cataloguing of transportation activities and costs across your entire system. This should include full documentation of stakeholder processes and needs, and structured solutions that are aligned with your needs such as: suggestions for consolidated route systems, and service level standardization.

Upon completing a transportation diagnostic, your organization will have visibility into all of your transportation activities, and learn where opportunities exist to increase value and reduce risk organization-wide.

Summary

By converting legacy operations into a centralized, consolidated network, healthcare organizations can increase efficiency and control; reduce waste and overlap and make a transportation system easier to manage.

Healthcare transportation has strategic bearing on a health system and can unify an entire network. A strong, centrally managed transportation function facilitates the complimentary centralization and leveragability of related departments (lab, mail, supplies, etc.), enabling future strategic opportunities and growth.

While there are variations among organizations, undergoing a healthcare transportation assessment and making changes that support additional efficiency can create broad-spectrum value.

You will find that the three key improvements are in:

• Operational Quality – increased clinician productivity
• Economic Value – significant cost savings now and in the future
• Strategic Advantage - the opportunity to shift your focus back on your core competencies.

 

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