A new tool to help manage potential supply disruptions

As HealthTrust members know all too well, navigating supply disruptions, anticipating supply shortages and learning how to pivot to new products have become essential to operating a healthcare organization today. They require knowledge-sharing, resourcefulness and creativity. Now, there’s a tool to assist: HealthTrust Huddle.

Stephanie Thompson, PharmD, MBA

A place to connect

“HealthTrust’s Chief Operating Officer, Michael Berryhill, championed for our company to come up with a better way to engage HealthTrust members across our network and leverage the knowledge within both acute care and non-acute care facilities to solve problems and to share ideas and best practices,” says HealthTrust’s VP of Clinical Services, Stephanie Thompson, PharmD, MBA.

Building off the practice of in-person team huddles used by many businesses to diagnose and identify problems, prioritize work and generally check in with one another, Huddle is an online portal where HealthTrust members can connect in real time, explains Emily Wright, HealthTrust’s Manager, Knowledge Services. “We have a lot of discussions (within the Huddle) about supply chain disruptions and other content categories that are relevant to members,” she says.

Emily Wright

Launched in July 2021 with a small group of HealthTrust advisory members as a pilot, Huddle is now open to all HealthTrust members. Wright shares that an estimated 20 topics are tagged for members to easily pinpoint where to go to find discussions about a particular subject. Huddle can be accessed from a laptop or desktop, as well as from a mobile app, so members can get the information when and how they need it in real time.

“Members can pose questions to other members, such as, ‘Have you tried this in your facility?’ or ‘How do you engage physicians in this particular process?’ or ‘What tools do you use to manage XYZ?’ Our goal is to provide an easy-to-use forum where members can engage one another around solutions for any issue they’re facing within their facility,” Wright explains. “The tool enables different-sized health systems from within the membership to learn from one another by leveraging the know-how, resources and knowledge from peer providers.”

Combating supply disruptions

As Huddle’s moderators observed the conversations happening, an obvious hot topic emerged—supply chain disruption. Members have helped each other through the forum by sharing their experiences and workarounds, not to mention empathizing over shared issues.

Thompson shares that use of the Huddle inspired the Knowledge Services team to also create a place within the resource where members could report their specific supply chain issues. On the welcome page, members simply click on “Report a Supply Disruption” and can access the newly created supply disruption portal. Here, they enter details about their particular problem. Those concerns are then communicated to HealthTrust’s Supply Disruption Task Force, which aims to identify the sources of disruption, and if possible, help to resolve the issue.

“Once there is an update or something critical that members need to know, we post the information in both the portal and in the Huddle for greater awareness,” adds Wright.

It’s important to also share that with the sometimes-sensitive nature of the topics being discussed within the Huddle, members can be assured of privacy, Wright says. Moderating safeguards are in place, and it’s a members-only community balanced on trust. “We’ve built a safe space where people feel comfortable being vulnerable to share their opportunities,” she adds.

Knowledge for future planning

In addition to providing real-time solutions, the information found in Huddle helps members with demand planning. “This is really a collective learning experience,” Thompson says. “As members share their supply chain knowledge and concerns, potential supply chain issues on the horizon may be revealed. That kind of information is invaluable because it allows members time to plan and prepare: ‘How are we going to conserve materials? How do we help identify which patients we’ll need to prioritize using this for? How do we have some sort of governance around certain products?’ ”

While the portal and Huddle can’t promise to eliminate the possibility of supply chain disruptions, the value is in the shared knowledge, Thompson adds. “We’ve been able to increase the speed-to-knowledge for members, so they can improve the time-to-action on behalf of their patients.”

To access the HealthTrust Huddle, visit the Member Portal or contact the Clinical Services team for more information at clinical.services@healthtrustpg.com

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