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Headaches from managing loaner sets?

Is the following situation all too familiar? A surgeon needs specific supplies for an upcoming medical procedure. However, the available consignment material (loaned for the longer term) cannot fill the need. So the supplier agrees to temporarily loan the necessary material to the hospital. However, the day before surgery, there is no trace of the promised loaner set. The OR team must now either place an urgent order (with associated high costs), or postpone the operation.

To avoid such situations, the university hospital in Ghent (UZ Gent) digitised the workflow for managing loaner sets, with Workflower. Now, the team knows the exact status of each order, and if there is a risk that something may go wrong, timely action can be taken.

What do you have to gain from the loaner set management process?

  • Uniformity: All information is concentrated in one application. You gain time because, for example, you don’t have to determine for which patient a loan set is delivered.
  • Real-time information: You can always follow up on the status of your orders. If something goes wrong somewhere, you can intervene in a timely way.
  • Efficiency gains: Automating this flow also saves your employees time. At UZ Gent, about 1,000 orders are placed every year. For each order, they save an average of 25 minutes. Just calculate how much time this represents!
  • Flexibility: The process can be configured to suit the hospital’s needs, and can be expanded. For instance, you can also include the process for sterilisation or delivery to the OR.
  • Better service for the surgeon and the patient: The surgeon can be confident that everything will be ready in time for the operation. There is also less chance that an operation will have to be postponed because a loaner set is missing.

Now that we are using the Workflower loaner set management process, there is no need to input data twice, or send suppliers an extra mail with information. Moreover, the supplier automatically receives a notification when a surgery is cancelled or rescheduled. This definitely saves us time.”
Carine Walraed and Karolien Bral, OR planners orthopaedics UZ Gent

How does the Workflower application work?

>> Placing the loaner set order:

  •  When scheduling surgery for a patient, the surgeon can tick in the EPR that a loaner set (or consignment) is needed, then complete the order for the set directly in the EPR, in Workflower (without having to log in). Any available data on the patient and procedure is pre-filled.
  • The surgical planner can also place an order, by clicking on the relevant patient in the list of open order requests. The Workflower form appears on the screen, with most of the data pre-filled (via the HL7 message sent by the EPR when the surgery request is registered). The planner fills in any missing information, such as the supplier, the material needed, the desired delivery date, and the need (or not) for technical support, and adjusts the delivery location if necessary.
    💡 Alternative: The implant manager or OR employee can initiate the Workflower process without a trigger from the EPR, and then fill in the entire order form manually. This might be the case when, for example, the surgeon has contacted the supplier by phone but has not registered the loaner set order in the EPR.
  • As soon as all information is complete, an e-mail is automatically sent to the supplier with the order details. This e-mail includes only the information necessary to properly carry out the delivery. No personal data is included; instead, there is a unique reference that links to the order for the patient, as well as some standard questions for the supplier to answer.

>> Order confirmation:

  •  The supplier answers the questions (e.g., agreement for the material and delivery date, whether the material will be delivered sterile, whether technical advice can be provided during the surgical procedure, etc.) and confirms the order via return e-mail. Attachments can be added, such as photos with sizes and/or amounts of material.
  • The information from the confirmation e-mail is automatically added to the Workflower form at the hospital, along with any attachments.

>> Order follow-up:

  •  If the material cannot be delivered or technical support from the supplier is not possible, this appears on an ‘error list’. The implant manager then decides on the action to take.
  • If the procedure is rescheduled or cancelled in the EPR, Workflower detects the change and the supplier is automatically notified via e-mail.

>> Material delivery:

  • When the ordered material arrives at the hospital, the logistics staff notes in the Workflower form exactly what has been delivered: number of bins with sterile instrumentation, number with non-sterile instrumentation and number with implants, as well as any comments about the delivery.
  • The delivery note is printed and attached to each bin to ensure the unique reference and tracking information is visible. Everything is ready to be prepared for sterilisation and surgery.

>> Returning material:

  • After the operation (or after re-sterilising the loaner set), a logistics staff member checks that the loaner set is complete, notes any comments (e.g., damaged material) and indicates in Workflower that the delivery is ready for collection. An e-mail is automatically sent to the supplier.
  • When the supplier collects the shipment, the employee from the logistics department confirms this in Workflower. At this point, the process comes to an end.

Figure: standard workflow for managing loaner sets

Overview lists:

At each step in the process, the status of the loaner set order is updated: ‘requested’, ‘confirmed’, ‘delivered’, ‘ready for return’, ‘date changed’, ‘picked up’ or ‘cancelled’. Based on this, you can configure overview lists, which give you quick insight into the status of each order.

A few examples:

  • ‘Open requests’: gives an overview of all requests that have been started, but require information to be completed.
  • ‘Deadline at risk’: lets you see at a glance whether there is any material that has not yet been delivered the day before the operation.
  • ‘Technical advice not available’: via this list, the OR knows that they cannot count on assistance from the supplier during the operation.

You can easily and quickly configure such lists yourself, tailored to the needs of your hospital.

“The biggest time-savings lies with the logistics staff. Thanks to the reference numbers, when the material is delivered, they immediately know which order/operation it concerns. At the touch of a button, they also have a printed copy of the delivery note with all the important data on it. Before, they had to manually write all of this themselves.”
Julie Van Bogaert, Traceability Project Manager, ICT | Business Applications

Questions about the application for managing loaner sets?