Quality of Care or Save money? Maybe Both

Inventory system being used

One of the most depressing parts of this article was the fact that some hospitals believe they have to choose between quality of care and saving money. Why can’t you have both? This is what Seattle Children’s Hospital is helping to solve.

Before implementing the continuous performance improvement plan, nurses at the Children’s Hospital actually resorted to stealing and hiding tools and supplies needed for everyday use. When reading this, the first thing that came to mind was a hotel. It reminded me of taking supplies off of the housekeeping carts and storing them in the hotel room. So is this a proper way of keeping track of inventory? Of course not, so they implemented a plan similar to retail or manufacturing companies, where each nurse would have a fully stocked cart with two bins for tools and supplies needed for everyday use. When they used one bin, the next would be readily available. The empty bins would then go to a central supply office where the bins are scanned for restock or reorder. If this sounds oddly familiar, it should. The company most known for this inventory plan is Toyota.

I saw this plan up close and it really works well. I plan on working in the Healthcare field after graduation, so I shadowed a healthcare administrator at one of the Park Nicollet hospitals in Minneapolis (not at the Minneapolis campus with Nellie Munn). This inventory system is actually one of the topics you can still talk about with nurses and see how they needed time to get used to it, but highly prefer it over the other “steal/hide” system.

Do you think that Hospitals should start implementing methodologies of operations management?




5 thoughts on “Quality of Care or Save money? Maybe Both

  1. By all means hospitals could be more efficient in inventory management. However, it may take additional resources to accomplish such an outcome. Whether or not hospitals have the ability to add either the practices or people to implement the practices is the issue that hospitals will face. Sure the long term payoff should be clear but the short term expense may be difficult for every hospital to manage.

  2. I felt like no matter what method is used, if people are not honest, they can still find the way to steal/hide. However, by implementing the new methodologies may decreasing a chance of stealing.

  3. Short handing hospitals of resources that they need in order to keep their patients healthy is not something a patient wants to hear. If something was done in order to make sure that supplies were not being stolen or lost then there would be a better use of resources. No one can really account for human error and stolen products but if there can be a strategy to implement in order to better track resources then it could lead to better use and effectiveness of their resources.

  4. I understand that an improved inventory system could decrease theft and abuse of resources, but wouldn’t it make it more difficult for the doctors and nurses to do their job if everything is so tightly regulated. Other than the costs recovered from prevented theft what financial benefits are there if the hospital still has to purchase all of those same resources to use anyway? On what scale and to what degree of success could this be implemented?

  5. Reading this article really floors me. It is incredible how much money pumps through the healthcare system yet stories like this article continues to surface. Its hard to not repeat the article’s title, but I really am curious how others think that obtaining good quality of services is attainable while still being financially conscious. Personally, I believe that the distribution of profits within healthcare are unequal, and PBO (“Patient Billing Offices”) are truthfully making too much profit and therefore these poor hospitals feel the need to shortchange patients in order to remain financially healthy. Seems messed up to me. I have a friend who’s dad is a healthcare consultant and he tells me all the time how healthcare structures truly are very unequal and it is near impossible to deviate from the long lasting theory that “that’s the way it goes”. Do others think the distribution is unequal? I’m curious what you think.

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