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Tuesday November 9, 2021  |  Erin Glanz, MSN, RN CNOR, NE-BC, Director, Perioperative Product Management

Best Practices for Reducing Supply and Inventory Waste in Your OR

Best Practices Reducing Supply Inventory Waste OR EHR

Healthcare facilities must constantly reevaluate how they can reduce waste and curb operating costs while creating efficiencies and improving care quality. One of the most critical areas where a hospital cannot afford to lose revenue is in the operating room (OR).

Why the Focus on the OR?

With so much invested in the OR, establishing effective supply management policies and standards is essential. Failure to do so can significantly impact patient care and financially harm a facility’s overall operations. This article will cover sources of OR waste and how it affects your business, along with strategies you can apply to stem its flow.

Sources of Waste

While sources of waste vary from facility to facility, the most common areas of focus include:

  1. Supply chain management challenges
  2. Item preference variations
  3. Nonexistent case preparation protocols
  4. Preference card management
  5. Industry change
  6. Material management knowledge gaps
  7. Multiple stocking locations
  8. Inefficient communication

How Ineffective OR Supply Management Hurts Your Business

If needed supplies are not available for a specific procedure, you must delay that procedure until the necessary supplies arrive. Delays and cancellations impact physician and patient satisfaction, decrease efficiency, and potentially lead to patient complications.

Supply Waste Hurts Your Bottom Line

Operational Waste Creates Burnout

Your nurses and physicians did not choose healthcare as a career because they are passionate about sorting and searching for supplies. According to an article written for Health Facility Management, nurses spend 20 to 50 of their time searching, moving, or sorting supplies. Spending a significant amount of time pulling for cases or searching for a specific supply can easily lead to burnout.

Strategies to Improve Efficiencies and Reduce Waste

You and your team can correct the problem of waste in the operating room through policies and inventory tools that help standardize materials management and encourage organizational efficiency. The following strategies can help you optimize your OR workflows in ways that reduce waste, increase clinician satisfaction, and, most importantly, ensure patient safety.

  1. Prioritize Preference Card Management - Leverage electronic preference cards to provide a streamlined approach to card management.
  2. Improve Communication – Schedule daily huddles with members of your clinical and supply chain management teams to communicate relevant information.
  3. Provide Accurate Reporting – Create reports that analyze supply use, costs, and purchasing frequencies and relate the data to outcomes, returns, and delays.
  4. Implement a Product Review Committee – Use product review committees to engage your staff in ensuring supply management standardization, giving them an actionable role in improving patient care workflows.

Start Optimizing Your OR Resources Now!

Reducing waste is critical for controlling expenses within your OR and throughout the facility. By implementing some of these strategies to reduce operational and supply waste, you can:

  1. Improve physician and staff satisfaction
  2. Improve operational metrics
  3. Maintain patient safety and decrease the risk for adverse events
  4. Improve patient satisfaction
  5. Increase profit margin

Firsthand clinical user experiences and feedback from advisory groups create the foundation of MEDHOST Perioperative Experience. These design elements help make sure the solution adds more material efficiencies and standardization to your perioperative department.

To learn more about how MEDHOST can help you save costs by optimizing material and supply usage in your OR, reach out to us at or call 1.800.383.6278.

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