Martin’s Point Health Care, USA

“Previous state and problems – why we reached out”

“As the Manager of Supply Chain for a mid-sized primary care practice I was responsible for the restocking of medical supplies and medications across multiple clinics. Our supply rooms initially held between 200 and 300 SKU’s. We had two major buckets of issues: Labour inefficiencies & supply room layouts. Our disparate locations of clinics and a manual re-ordering process caused significant wasted time performing inventories, re-ordering and re-stocking products. Limited supply room size, high SKU counts and non-standard product locations resulted in over/under stocking & frequent product relocation.”

Our legacy process required a supply chain employee to drive to each of our 7 clinics twice per week, once for an inventory and order placement, and once for putaway. Because our locations were twenty minutes to an hour apart, more than 20% of their time was spent driving.

Limited space in each room meant that if a delivery was missed, a SKU could stockout. Nursing staff would begin to horde critical items after restock. In response to hoarding, supply chain staff would respond to increased demand and overbuy, resulting in unconsumed product expiring in desk drawers or idle on the shelf.

Each time a product ran out, clinical staff would notify their supervisor. Our investigations found this occurred multiple times per day. Unfortunately, each staff member needed to let supervision know, as there was no mechanism to identify an outage had been reported. After notification, clinical supervision would use valuable clinic time to enter a manual reorder via an internal system.

To further complicate matters, both clinical staff and supply chain would ‘reorganize’ stockrooms, causing all staff to both spend more time finding product – and then even more time to place it back where it ‘belonged.’

Patients were dissatisfied when a procedure needed rescheduling due to stockout, staff were frustrated by overflowing and disorganized stock rooms, and Supply Chain staff were struggling to keep up with the chaos. We needed a better way.

How we found you

Our initial brainstorm was to place RFID Kanban tags in each room. We began to search the web for available products and reach out to a few suppliers. TwinBin came up as a potential solution.

Why we were intrigued

TwinBins solved all of the challenges inherent to competitive products. Card or traditional bin based systems require staff to remember to slot the card in the reader, or scan/move the bin. Clinical staff are often in a hurry and may forget. Bins or cards can be mis-placed or re-organized. TwinBins automatically flip the flags for re-order and are not able to be moved by staff.

RFID Chip systems were very expensive for our relatively small scale, and until TwinBin, we couldn’t find a cost-effective product which had an integrated software solution. Tens of thousands were proposed by RFID solutions for system integrations and hardware setup. The annual software fees were more than the cost of the TwinBin Hardware. Because we were not in a single building, we needed a solution which could be replicated in multiple locations. TwinBin’s system is affordable, integrated and can be uniquely customized for the space. Our slightly different sized stock rooms could have the same basic structure, but with a design sized to fit each one exactly.

How TwinBin supported us and the steps involved

Although TwinBin offers design, I was quite excited and initially planned out our rooms by generating visual representations in excel. Once I provided this layout and room dimensions, within a few days the TwinBin team made a 3d rendering of the room and bin layout. Order placement and delivery were a breeze, the bins arrived on time, packed effectively to survive sea freight. We opted to install ourselves, and our team was able to get the racking up over a few days with just a few people. Once the bins were hung, syncing with the app was straightforward once you got the hang of it. Lastly, logging into the monitoring system was simple, and we were able to give full access to our supply chain team, while limiting read only access for our clinical sites to review.

TwinBins allowed us to monitor stock remotely, standardize location of products, eliminate manual requisitions, reduce inventory & expired products, and save square footage.

Hospital Clinic Kanban
Hospital Clinic Kanban Stores

Immediate benefits and success

We ran an initial pilot system with a plan for ‘pay back’ in 2 years driven by reductions in staff labor and expired products. As it turned out, the system paid for itself in the first 6 months, largely by reducing product spend. Our big reduction in SKU’s had an immediate impact on consumption. Staff were not needing to notify supervision of low stock, and once they learned the bin locations, found products much faster. When we surveyed the staff, they all felt that the new system was far superior, and all of them had not rescheduled a procedure due to missing stock. The labour efficiencies we planned for were there, but surpassed by consumption savings!

Ongoing cost savings

Charting our budget vs actuals, we could visually see the month after the Kanban system was installed. There was an initial spike as we populated bins, and then a sustained drop each month over the previous year’s spend. I had fun sharing with clinical leadership the ‘cliff’ of savings they experienced. As we expanded to more locations, we saw this same reduction pattern each time. Our sites experienced 25-60% reductions in monthly spend once an installation was complete. In our first two years, we experienced six figure savings from low cost medical consumables! It was a massive win.

Additional benefits and effects on business efficiencies

While building out room layouts, we took a hard look at which products we were stocking, and whether they were necessary. Staff looked for duplicate items, or those which could be special ordered instead of stocked. Most of our locations had a greater than 40% reduction in the number of stocked SKU’s. As an example, partnering with our clinical ops team, needle SKU’s were reduced from 48 to 12. This meant more space and better purchasing power on the remaining SKU’s. Crucially, new staff members had fewer options to consider as they selected the proper needle.

During our implementation we began construction of a new facility. It was our largest yet, but space was a premium. Because we had an established design of our TwinBin room- we were able to comfortably reduce the size of our new stockrooms, freeing up square footage for clinical space.

Originally, we used TwinBins, and TripFlags. TwinBin then launched Bluetooth BinFlags, which we affixed to shelves to monitor items too large or oddly shaped to fit in bins. We had success placing these on the front of our refrigerators to monitor vaccine re-orders. Our clinical staff no longer needed to enter manual requisitions – just flip the flag, and they knew products were on the way.

After our pilot, we did some re-organizing of the room to put like products together in a way that made sense for the clinical staff. We color coded needles in red, bandages in blue etc. We then copied these colors and layout at all clinic locations, so that if staff worked at an alternate location, the look and feel was the same.

hospital kanban stores
hospital kanban stores

Environmental impacts

Reduction in over 10 hours of driving per week. Expired products were for the most part eliminated, not needing to be thrown away.

Re-Used with Permission from Supply Chain Manager of Multiple US Medical Clinics

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