Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa (PCI) is one of the largest private, multispecialty physician groups in Iowa, with locations in Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. With more than 80 physicians, surgeons, and healthcare providers to support, PCI spends millions of dollars each month on the supplies they need. Like most organizations, PCI wanted to ensure their money was being spent in the most responsible and efficient way possible.
Zach Grimm, Pavilion Services Director, oversees supply chain management as part of his duties at PCI. Grimm is adept at managing his roles and prioritizing his responsibilities, but when it came to supply chain, the time spent was out of balance. He knew there had to be a better way.
As a supply chain executive, Grimm’s biggest problem was the process that is required to deliver accurate and consistent reporting.
“With supply chain management, you spend a significant amount of time taking raw data and turning it into usable data – the data we need to make important purchasing decisions, decisions about how best to allocate funds,” said Grimm. “Our old system was manual, time consuming, and entirely inefficient.”
Previously, when Grimm conducted his supply chain reporting, he went to a large room filled with big filing cabinets that stored every invoice PCI used for the past year. “I had to dig through the invoices to gather spend data,” he said.
With dozens of specialties and departments to support, PCI’s list of suppliers was easily over 100. Grimm was tasked with sifting through the thousands of invoices that resulted from the transactions with these suppliers. “Having useable spend data to work with is extremely valuable. But the process to get there was laborious, and generating a single analysis could take me three days,” he noted.
Grimm knew that if he wanted to replace these paper filing cabinets with a digital database, he would have to re-imagine the entire supply chain process. He conducted a top-to-bottom review of their current workflow and the results came of no surprise.
He found that the lack of information and visibility also frustrated the PCI employees who were responsible for placing orders, interacting with vendors, and managing inventories for the various departments within PCI. Each vendor had its own requirements for how an order should be placed, how they would communicate availability, and how pricing updates and discrepancies were handled. “Our organization spends north of $20 million annually on the supplies we need. That process requires significant involvement from many of my colleagues at PCI. As it turns out, the process was flawed for all of us.”
During his review, Grimm uncovered that these cumbersome transactions often lead to excessive ordering. Staff would purchase more supplies than they actually needed to extend the gap between their current order and their next order. This happened, Grimm discovered, because they lacked the confidence the orders would be correctly fulfilled. Grimm was ready for a solution one way or another.
“Supply chain management is a critical function at PCI, but I was spending 75% of my time on supply chain alone. That left only 25% to spend on operational duties,” notes Grimm. “We were considering bringing on a full-time employee dedicated solely to supply chain. But before we took that step and allocated resources toward that additional line item in our budget, we began searching for a solution. We knew there had to be a better way.”
After working the problem backwards, Grimm concluded that improving the workflow for supply ordering and receiving would lead to the data mining engine he was after. To do this, he envisioned automating the entire process for how supplies were ordered, received, and paid for. To make his vision a reality, Grimm chose to partner with Hybrent, a healthcare specific supply chain company.
Less than 60 days after signing with Hybrent, PCI had a fully functioning and electronic materials management system. According to Grimm, the results were immediate. Each purchase order could now be electronically requested, approved, received, and paid for. Grimm delivered to his colleagues exactly what they needed, a streamlined process for all vendors and suppliers.
“I can rely on the order being correct, rather than just crossing my fingers and hoping something came through,” said Grimm. “We’ve corrected course on over-ordering, which was a real problem before Hybrent.”
Every time an order is placed, users are alerted immediately if the order has been accepted, or if the order was rejected or back-ordered. This has given PCI users the confidence to reduce inventories closer to real time fulfillment.
Grimm was able to reduce on-hand inventory of a single product category by more than $50,000 in the first month with Hybrent. “Those aren’t just boxes of supplies on our shelves, they each have a cost. Every dollar I can save our organization in supply costs is another dollar we can spend on patient care.”
Hybrent also reversed the time Grimm allocated towards his duties – allowing him to now spend 75% of his time overseeing PCI facilities. Best of all for Grimm, the automated solution brought he and other PCI executives greater visibility into the data collected; turning materials data into valuable operational insights that assists with budgeting, planning and ultimately, positively impacting organizational profitability.
Hybrent updated and automated the entire process of supply chain management for PCI. End users now have a consistent and streamlined operation for requesting and receiving the needed supplies, and administrators have unlocked the data necessary to deliver personalized insights. The Hybrent platform has delivered savings in both time and money, while eliminating the need to bring on additional resources to support supply chain efforts.
“One of our mottos at PCI is, ‘Together in Health’. And in Hybrent, we’ve found a partner who shares that same philosophy,” says Grimm. The onboarding process was easier and faster than Grimm and his team anticipated and he notes, “the efficiencies gained and money saved have exceeded our expectations. From reporting to ordering, and everything in between, this partnership is a win-win.”