HealthTrust assists members with conversion support resources
New clinical evidence, improved patient outcomes, an opportunity to realize cost savings, aligning with physician preferences—these are just some of the reasons hospitals change the products they use. And, despite the best of intentions, a conversion process can sometimes be a bumpy ride. HealthTrust recently developed conversion support resources to assist facilities during these sometimes-troublesome transitions. And, members are already reporting smoother, more streamlined results.
Increasing value & improving the process
Converted products typically fall into several key buckets, including commodities such as exam gloves, bandages and patient slippers. Meanwhile, physicians drive other changeovers that often center on implantable hardware or invasive surgical tools. Recognizing the strategic challenges involved, HealthTrust launched a more coordinated set of conversion support tools in early 2022, shares Kim Kelly, MSN, RN, AVP of Clinical Services with HealthTrust.
“The ultimate goal is to assist members by providing the tools and resources they need to convert to another contracted supplier—whether they are looking to maximize value, decrease variation or, as was often the case during the pandemic, respond to a supply disruption issue,” Kelly shares. “Our conversion tools are becoming a road map for members to establish a thorough process for how they vet and move from one contracted supplier to another in any category, as well as understand all the stakeholders and teams who need to be engaged to maximize a successful transition.”
Jody Upton, MSN, MSM, RN, Director of Clinical Services, HealthTrust, agrees. “Many members had stalled in converting physician preference products,” she says, “and HealthTrust wanted to find a way to provide resources members could pick and choose from, depending on their pain points. The goal was to create resources that any facility could use, both from those who are well versed in conversions and those who are new to the process, allowing them to choose based on facility need.”
Breaking down barriers
What are the factors that can stall or even halt a hospital’s product conversion? Kelly and Upton emphasize that clinician buy-in is crucial—an outcome made more likely by careful staff education and question-and-answer periods. “If the nurses or physicians aren’t engaged, you may successfully convert to the new product, but compliance won’t be there,” Upton explains. “In the initial analysis, you need to find your ‘clinical champions’ to partner with and move through the process.”
“If you’re not involving the end users while planning and making the conversion, it’s going to be very challenging to make the conversion endure over time and not have staff slipping back to ordering or using the previous product,” Kelly adds.
HealthTrust’s newly developed conversion tools and resources aim to boost facilities’ value-analysis process while considering a product conversion, as well as align clinicians with the plan. The tools include a “playbook” to help hospitals define the committees and staff stakeholders needed for a conversion, and offer guidance for initiating productive discussions. Resources also include graphics of step-by-step phases for conversion analysis and templates to help supply chain or clinician champions communicate with physicians, alerting them to pertinent dates as well as training and support services, Upton explains. There is also a resource offering tips for effective supplier relationships. “This component often gets overlooked when a facility is looking to change products,” Kelly shares. “Suppliers can be a valuable resource to assist with a conversion, but a good relationship and strong guidelines need to be in place.”
St. Luke’s success story
During its recent conversion of trocars—instruments used during minimally invasive surgery through which other surgical tools are passed—St. Luke’s Health System in Boise, Idaho, benefited from HealthTrust’s expanded set of conversion support tools. The system’s surgeons use more than 23,000 such devices annually, according to Kacey Wear, MSN, RN, CEN, CVAHP, former Clinical Category Director for St. Luke’s. Aiming to save about $200,000 each year, the system set its sights on converting its inventory to one type of trocar.
Several years ago, such a conversion would have required a heavy internal lift. “We would need to ask our data team to dig into pricing, which was a very manual process,” she explains. “Now we have HealthTrust analytics, which enables us to pull our back data and purchase history as well as different tiers of pricing to get a full analysis. This saves a ton of time and offers visibility into all of the opportunities,” Wear adds.
Building on what works
HealthTrust experts are eyeing even more ways to help members with product conversions going forward. The Clinical Services team is developing tools uniquely suited to ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). “ASCs don’t have all the departments a hospital has and may not have a dedicated supply chain resource,” Kelly adds. “So the way they look at and address conversions is quite different.”
Additionally, expanded physician engagement resources will soon be available, and HealthTrust wants to help facilities with smaller, less clinically sensitive conversion efforts that don’t necessarily lead to immediate, large savings. However, those can’t be overlooked because they add up over time, Upton shares.
For now, anyone can get started and make meaningful changes immediately. “The beauty of what we’ve been able to create is that the conversion resources are available to all members, regardless of their size,” Kelly says. “There’s something for everyone.”
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