Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How Value Analysis Can Introduce Global Sourcing to your Organization.

Five part series:

How Value Analysis Teams (VAT) can improve overall quality, reduce costs and positively impact patient experience by engaging in global sourcing. 

Part Two - by 
Bethany Gleim, Director of Value Analysis, ASP Global

How Value Analysis Can Introduce Global Sourcing to your Organization.

Understanding the what and why [What is global sourcing and how can it impact your value analysis team?] about global sourcing is key to introducing your team to the strategic value-based implementation of global sourcing. It is all about improving quality and the patient experience while reducing costs associated with thousands of your common hospital products.
Once you have determined this is a value-based course of action, here’s what you can expect from your global sourcing partners in order to make it as easy as possible for you to introduce and help launch the program.

Identifying and picking off the low hanging fruit

Start slow by identifying 10-15 high volume medical products with the least amount of conflict. Stethoscopes, digital thermometers, personal protection apparel and patient belonging bags are a few of the most common, “low friction,” products many facilities use to launch and validate their global sourcing programs. These products regularly demonstrate savings of 20 - 30% annually and easy conversion from products currently on formulary.

A good metric for defining "high volume" products are those with a minimum 10,000-unit annual purchase, though many large hospitals will find plenty of opportunities in products of which they buy 100,000 to 1 million or more annually.

Cross reference against your formulary for savings expectation

Your global sourcing partner, someone who knows what is required to successfully design, source and deliver products direct from factories across the globe, will complete a cross reference review of those identified items currently in use. The resulting cost analysis will detail the anticipated savings on products at or exceeding current levels of clinical acceptance. You should expect full visibility on pricing all the way from the factory to your shelves.

Building a team primed for success

Your global sourcing partner can assist you in identifying the key stakeholders, executive sponsors, VAT leaders, clinical representatives and supply chain representatives needed to implement and maximize the value of your global sourcing program. 

Planning a successful kickoff meeting 

Once your team has been established, your next steps would be to coordinate with your global sourcing partner a successful kickoff meeting.  The agenda should include the savings results from the cross-reference analysis and product samples of the 10-15 identified commodity items used to validate the value of the program. Testimonials will be provided by your global sourcing partner from other hospitals currently taking advantage of the benefits global sourcing provides to their organizations.  

What’s next?

Building strategy acceptance for global sourcing. Stay tuned.  

About the author
Bethany Gleim is director of value analysis for ASP Global, a leader in global sourcing strategies and programs that enable IDNs, hospitals and large group practices to take advantage of lower costs and improved quality in hospital medical supplies available through direct sourcing, an efficient supply chain model and the global marketplace.

Empowered by real science


NASHVILLE — Not surprisingly, many Sterile Processing and Distribution professionals exude sincere passion for their performance, mission and importance within their organizations.

More than 1,400 attendees here at the 2017 IAHCSMM Annual Conference & Expo clearly demonstrated that as they roamed the show floor and hotel hallways. In fact, several educational sessions taught them how to defend, protect and reinforce the knowledge, experience and confidence they (should) possess about what they do every day — even as others try to force SPD to atone for the logistics, occupational and process miscues of others who avoid responsibility.

SPD pros learned techniques and tricks to deflect blame strategically, and dismiss bullies tactfully and politely, all while simultaneously working on solutions to the problems. One SPD manager from a surgical hospital perhaps said it best during her presentation: “Don’t let others throw SPD under the bus…If they make the mistake then you have to get them to own it.” She referenced how vendors, nurses and doctors can use SPD as a convenient scapegoat to cover their errors in judgment.

Defend and document the issues — especially when you’re right —  to protect the credibility and expertise of the department and the pros that support the operating room and patients every day.

Unfortunately, government and media reports of infectious outbreaks among patients, tied to improperly reprocessed devices and instruments, can hinder that credibility. Of course, an SPD department that adopts and implements the Unique Device Identifier (UDI) codes on products should definitively establish the links between reprocessing and outcomes via track-and-trace capabilities, attendees learned in another session.

Against that stark backdrop, conference speakers stressed the obvious need for thorough cleaning, disinfection and sterilization of devices and instruments used on patients, preferably guided by manufacturers’ detailed instructions for use. To that end, certain working groups strive to develop and establish standardized IFUs, independently validated by third-party laboratories, to reinforce high-quality SPD performance with minimal drama and process inconveniences.

Until then, SPD pros must continue pursuing reprocessing competency as a baseline, and performance improvement rooted in real science as an ongoing objective. This conference exposed attendees to useful tips for effective reprocessing, including proper inspection and leak testing of endoscopic equipment, the type of water, cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing agents to use and how those agents affect the body. SPD pros also learned about the characteristics and hazards of bioburden left behind somewhere in a patient’s body cavity or “internal plumbing.”

Several sessions exposed device areas missed by reprocessing, including blood, tissue and water droplets in device cavities, crannies and crevasses, and what that material left behind could do to the device or instrument over time and to the patient. Seeing patient photos on giant viewscreens generated audible gasps.

What SPD pros couldn’t see alarmed them, too — from a single strand of seemingly harmless laundry lint to skin cells shed by clinicians in the sterile field to microscopic bacterial retention. All were attacked as organic invaders by a phalanx of white blood cells dispatched by a patient’s immune system. In some cases, this activity morphed the bioburden with catastrophic consequences.

SPD pros learned how these bacteria and other particles behave in a way that should motivate not only SPD, but also doctors, nurses, infection preventionists, supply chain pros and C-suite leaders to understand and act. SPD pros learned how bacteria and residue shield themselves behind organic fortress walls (biofilms) and don biological suits of armor (think Iron Bug) to defend against internal immunity system attacks and external reprocessing materials.

Who would have thought that errant particulate matter expunged from a new filter in the air duct, from the movement of new surgical drapes or the turn of a clinician’s head, for example, could profoundly impact patient outcomes?

SPD does now. They know the science behind these facts and can share that knowledge with clinicians and administrators through reprocessing performance and environmental audits they can conduct. Will those areas listen to SPD’s wisdom?

Rick Dana Barlow

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What is global sourcing and how can it impact your value analysis team?

Five part series:

How Value Analysis Teams (VAT) can improve overall quality, reduce costs and positively impact patient experience by engaging in global sourcing. 

Part One - by 
Bethany Gleim, Director of Value Analysis, ASP Global

Many of America’s leading hospitals and IDNs including New York-Presbyterian, ROI Mercy, Northside Hospital (Atlanta) and Westchester Medical Center Health Network have implemented global sourcing programs to improve the quality of products while driving significant cost savings.

If your VAT is not familiar with global sourcing, they should be. Here’s why.

What is global sourcing and how can it impact your VAT?

Global sourcing describes the practice of acquiring thousands of common hospital products directly from manufacturers worldwide. Today, whether you realize it or not, 50% of the commodities used in a hospital are not actually made by the company whose brand name is on the product. By leveraging global sourcing and going directly to the factories, value analysis teams can play a role in developing clinically superior instead of clinically acceptable products while significantly reducing cost at the same time. VAT teams can choose customization and a long list of options for thousands of products compared to your legacy distributors’ list (not to mention eliminating the associated 20-50% markups on price). You can also make a measurable, positive contribution to improvements in the patient experience, patient communication and HCAHPS scores.

In short, you can get clinically superior products at the lowest possible price while also enhancing the patient experience by incorporating global sourcing into your VAT strategy.

Do you want to improve quality and increase standardization while reducing cost?

The cost of many hospitals supplies includes an upwards of 20-50 percent markups on products that come from many of the same factories available to you through global sourcing.

As our colleague Jim Connor, VP of Supply Chain with Westchester Medical told us, “Hardly anyone will tell you what [a med/surg product] costs to acquire throughout its supply chain lifecycle. I need partners for items I’m acquiring in high volume that must be consistently of very high quality, with full cost transparency.”
By insisting on visibility into the full cost of acquisition all the way back to the factory, the VAT committee can take quality and financial control back from the middlemen and set value-based improvements within their supply chain into action.
In just one example out of 33 products in Westchester’s global sourcing program, the team consulted with the clinical staff to source a new digital thermometer. The result: “With our sourcing partner, ASP Global, we generated a better product at half the price,” Connor says. “We save $70,000 per year on that product alone and trimmed three SKUs down to one.”
Example of improving clinical utility, your VAT can do the same

Earlier this year, Marc Prisament, Director of Product Development and Global Sourcing for
New York -Presbyterian told us, “When the health system changes the sourcing for a product, our ‘clinical improvement team’ participates in the decision-making process, which often results in winning scenarios in terms of both maximizing value and standardization.”
This scenario played out effectively when New York-Presbyterian began direct sourcing of operating room jackets, which included changes to reflect the preferences of NYP’s OR clinicians.
"They didn't like the snaps. They didn't like the length." By leveraging high volume purchases with a new manufacturer [through global sourcing], NYP combined the preferences of OR clinicians from all of the hospital’s nine campuses. "There's now only one product to buy, stock, and distribute," Prisament said.

Global Sourcing will improve customization, branding and the patient experience

From admission all the way through discharge, what are you saying to your patients with the products you hand them? Exactly how should the blanket you offer to a new mother and her newborn child feel? Does your distributor provide exactly what you need or want in the product? Or would you rather tell the person actually making the item what you are trying to communicate to the patient so that they can understand exactly what it means to you including how it needs to look and feel?

“Our patient amenity and branded items are going to determine, at least in part, how we are perceived and measured including our HCAHPS scores,” Connor said. “We are using global sourcing to ensure the quality of those [products] are high while keeping costs low.”

Kathy James, clinical supply chain manager with Northside Hospital (Atlanta) says, “It’s the little things that make big differences in the lives of the patient. So while there are many commercially available products we could have had relative to our patient comfort kits, we wanted it to be part of a personal experience. All of these efforts to improve the quality and utility of our hospital branded, patient amenity and other products [in our global sourcing program] have done nothing but improve our HCAHPS scores.

“When we started the process of custom designing our amenity kits we did not realize how much more of a personal connection we could make with our patients, and what surprised us more than anything was how many middle layers of cost we could remove by going direct. As a result, we’ve gone to a more direct sourcing model on other items and are looking to grow.”

Over the next two months, we will provide insight to how global sourcing can positively impact your VAT goals.

About the author
Bethany Gleim is director of value analysis for ASP Global, a leader in global sourcing strategies and programs that enable IDNs, hospitals and large group practices to take advantage of lower costs and improved quality in hospital medical supplies available through direct sourcing, an efficient supply chain model and the global marketplace.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

It’s time we take blood pressure like professionals

by Dr. Tom Schwieterman

When learning a sport, art or profession, basic fundamentals can be overlooked by amateurs eager to achieve glory-filled moments. But, often it is fundamentals that provide a solid foundation to produce the most successful outcomes. Professional golfers spend hours fine-tuning their putts and drives. Professional musicians tune onstage in the minutes before a performance.

For professional healthcare teams, basic fundamentals, such as vitals assessment, set the stage for successful patient outcomes. In many respects, the entire patient visit relies on information gathered from those first measurements, especially the blood pressure reading. The most recent figures from the CDC state that 29 percent of American adults have high blood pressure, and nearly 1 of every 3 American adults has prehypertension. An accurate blood pressure reading is essential to determine a patient’s current condition and risk for future disorders, and of course, the optimal pharmaceutical treatment.

Even slight discrepancies in measurement accuracy can have a dramatic impact on care management decisions. Thus, it is very important that clinicians achieve the most accurate readings possible with every patient encounter. According to the American Medical Association, actions as seemingly minor as talking with a patient or not supporting his/her arm during blood pressure measurement can change readings by as much as 10 mmHg, a difference that may propel a patient with borderline hypertension into a higher risk category that results in additional testing or medical management.

So, like the golfer tuning his swing before a tournament or a violinist adjusting her instrument to be in tune before performance, we need to tune our methods for taking a simple blood pressure reading.

First, allow patients to sit comfortably for at least five minutes to ensure you are taking a “resting” blood pressure reading, as the name implies. Then, apply these seven simple tips for an accurate blood pressure reading provided by the American Medical Association:

  • Empty bladder first
  • Support back and feet
  • Keep legs uncrossed
  • Support arm at heart level
  • Put cuff on bare arm
  • Use correct cuff size
  • Do not have a conversation

By taking the time to practice all the fundamentals in the simple act of blood pressure measurement, clinicians can proceed with confidence that their care management plans are based on sound data, producing several additional benefits:
  • Risk-scoring is more precise, thus enabling clinicians to allocate precious interventional resources to the patients who truly need it.
  • Pharmaceuticals can be dosed in a manner that reduces the risk of harmful adverse events, such as fainting and falls. A properly taken resting blood pressure is more likely to result in lower medicating requirements and therefore results in lower risk of side effects.
  • Clinicians are more appropriately rewarded for improved population health metrics because following the fundamentals of blood pressure testing almost always results in better readings.
  • Your patients will gain confidence in you and your team. In my 20 years of experience, patients pay attention – more than you may think – to your professionality and your attention to details.
 Revisiting fundamentals is key to success, no matter the sport or profession. In professional medicine, attention to fundamentals is essential to achieve successful outcomes – and there is nothing more fundamental to a successful population health effort than starting every patient encounter with an accurate blood pressure reading.

Dr. Tom Schwieterman practiced family medicine for 12 years before joining the team at Midmark. As vice president of clinical affairs and chief medical officer, he leads the company’s focus on innovative technology and new approaches that enrich experiences between caregivers and their patients at the point of care. Much of his time is focused on advising the development of clinical solutions, recognizing and understanding market trends, monitoring and providing insight on government regulations, and identifying and quantifying new innovations in the medical, dental and animal health markets. Dr. Schwieterman is board certified and continues to practice medicine. For more information about improving vitals acquisition with better technology, download the “Connecting Vitals Acquisition within the Point of Care Ecosystem” white paper by Midmark.

Monday, May 1, 2017



Ahiara Mbaise, NIGERIA


Animal Services & Welfare Community Development 

Dental Clinic 
Dental Services & Care 
Disability & Low Income Services Educational Programs 
Emergency Response 
Homeless Support Services 
Maternal Health & Infant Care
Medical Clinics & Hospitals 
Medical Missions

Countries served 9 19
Orders shipped 85 202
Charity partners 52 95
Product sent ($M) .1 4.1


To improve the delivery of healthcare worldwide by gathering, processing and distributing surplus medical and health supplies to charities at home and abroad.

American Global Rescue (a.k.a. Ahiara Development Union USA, Inc.) demonstrates the principle of remembering one’s roots. Founded by a group of Nigerian immigrants in 1990, the Houston-based charity has spent the past 26-plus years serving the poor of their native communities in and around the area of Ahiara Mbaise, Nigeria. With the goals of feeding, clothing and providing healthcare to the less fortunate and empowering others via education, they are currently working to build and supply a children’s hospital
as well as a technical school and agricultural training center.

Globus Relief is actively involved in supporting these aims, having sent three loads of medical supplies to AGR over the past several months. As the members of AGR recognize,  remembering one’s roots is essential to those that come after blossoming in the future.

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Globus Relief has turned twenty! Just over twenty years ago, two entrepreneurs
with an eye for worldwide impact developed Globus Relief to utilize
otherwise wasted medical resources to do a world of good. Since that small
beginning, our own roots, in December of 1996, Globus Relief has:
• Partnered with over 800 charity partners
• Assisted in 12,000+ humanitarian projects
• Provided $1+ billion (retail value) in aid
• Served in 150 countries and territories
• Redirected 16+ million pounds from landfills
• And much, much more.

Watch our video to see more of Globus Relief’s impact over the past twenty years or donate at www.globusrelief.org/donors to be part of the next twenty. We thank our donors, partners and other friends for the support that has made the past twenty years possible. We could not have done this without you and your generous contributions.

Globus Relief is Your Humanitarian Non-Profit Inventory Solution. Please contact us if you have medical or dental equipment, instruments, and supplies or other resources available for donation.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Day Without SPD


Back in mid-February, immigrants around the nation stayed home from work and school to protest President Trump’s vacillating and volatile immigration “policy” (deportations, blah, blah, blah, big wall, blah, blah, blah, close the borders, blah, blah, blah) and “to demonstrate how important they are to America’s economy,” according to an Associated Press report. Further, “many businesses closed in solidarity, in a nationwide protest called A Day Without Immigrants.”

One wonders what immediate and long-standing impact the protest made — whether employees and students somehow were penalized for going AWOL without “calling in sick.”

Certainly, uniformed police officers can contract “blue flu,” laborers can “strike,” professional athletes can pout and whine for more compensation to help them endure their multimillion-dollar-a-year poverty-level contract that fails to befit their lifestyles.

Yet this civil protest, which made a point (at least garnering some publicity) and maybe nicked the economy, ignited thoughts of a healthcare group important to a hospital’s economy and a patient’s health.

Yes, as IAHCSMM holds its 59th Annual Conference & Expo in Nashville during the second week in May, we’re talking about the unsung, seemingly under-appreciated sterile processing and distribution soldiers in SPD.

Imagine “A Day Without SPD.” No, we at Healthcare Purchasing News, which has been with IAHCSMM consistently for 40 of those 59 years, are not advocating that dedicated SPD staffers simply walk out in “mock” rebellion to the lack of appreciation by the C-suite on down through clinical, financial and operational fellow executives and staffers.

But, what if, by some dispensing of reality and suspension of belief, (alternate universe storylines dominated the sci-fi genre long before alternative facts became an acceptable concept in media and politics), SPD simply vanished? People, equipment, function, footprint.

What would a hospital do?

You might say that single-use product manufacturers gleefully would welcome and salivate over the prospect of a gilded financial age for them. Imagine the windfall profits … at least at first … until the hospitals, motivated by stingy payers that control the market, had to figure out how to deal with the budgetary fallout.

Someone would have to clean, decontaminate, high-level disinfect and sterilize instruments and equipment used in medical/surgical procedures. Yes, admit it. Many facilities would reuse SUDs at least once or twice to relieve the fiscal pressure.

But would those products be reprocessed well enough? As well as what SPD could have done?

Would doctors and surgeons and nurses be willing to risk it? Would the hospital CEO, CFO, CMO and CNO? What about the insurance companies?

Imagine the resulting infectious outbreaks from improperly reprocessed products. Imagine the ensuing lawsuits for negligent care.

Imagine the hospital CEO’s wife or husband having to go into life-ensuring emergency surgery on that particular day. Imagine the insurance company CEO’s wife or husband.

Much can be ballyhooed about SPD’s importance to healthcare operations and high-quality patient care.

But this exercise in conceptual thought isn’t meant to be critical, pandering or patronizing to anyone. It’s meant to be a sincere wake-up call.

SPD needs and deserves respect. Those who perform and practice within that field have earned it — no matter their educational level. Pluck a blue-blooded Wharton-trained MBA graduate from the C-suite and place him in SPD for a day, pitting him against a well-trained sterile processing tech with a high-school diploma to reprocess endoscopic instruments to be used next on a member of a prominent wealthy donor family of the hospital. If that family were given the choice, whose reprocessed products will they want used on their relative? Whose do you think?

For IAHCSMM members, it should be about the three-legged stool. The legs stand for quality, safety and respect (for colleagues, patients and the profession).

Quality is instrumental. You achieve it through SPD certification, validated IFU implementation (and preferably standardization), and fluid collaboration with Surgical Services/Infection Prevention. This formula represents one of the true pathways to healthcare reform. And it starts in SPD.

Rick Dana Barlow

Monday, April 3, 2017



Refugee Camps, TURKEY


Animal Services & Welfare Community Development 

Dental Clinic 
Dental Services & Care 
Disability & Low Income Services Educational Programs 
Emergency Response 
Homeless Support Services 
Maternal Health & Infant Care
Medical Clinics & Hospitals 
Medical Missions

Countries served 11 15
Orders shipped 701 117
Charity partners 44 65
Product sent ($M) 1.0 5.4


To improve the delivery of healthcare worldwide by gathering, processing and distributing surplus medical and health supplies to charities at home and abroad.
The world’s response to this need has not been enough. In 2016, the United Nations estimated total required aid to meet emergency level and urgent needs of the most vulnerable Syrians at $4.5 billion; by March of this year, only $2.9 billion had been received. As Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, has said, "The Syria crisis has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, yet the world is failing to meet the needs of refugees and the countries hosting them.”

We can choose to do more.

In 2017, Globus Relief teamed up with Islamic Relief USA and other refugee-focused charities to do its portion of the “more” that is needed. Globus Relief packed 28 forty-foot containers full with 3000 medical mattresses and 240 pallets of medical products. Shipped in January, these containers arrived in Turkey on March 24, 2017 and are being utilized in local hospitals and clinics serving refugees in that refugee-laden area. These items will enable these charities to continue to supply more than 250 hospitals and clinics and perform essential medical treatments, which currently number more than 1.8 million to date.

The need is tremendous. Let us do more.

Globus Relief is Your Humanitarian Non-Profit Inventory Solution. Please contact us if you have medical or dental equipment, instruments, and supplies or other resources available for donation.