When supplies in an exam room or operating room are disorganized, expired or missing altogether, we’ve wasted time for both patients and providers. Wasted time, in turn, can lead to longer appointment intervals and wait times for patients, which ultimately affect costs. When care teams can’t access the right supplies at the moment they need them, we also may impact the quality and safety of patient care.
To improve the supply status in our care centers, we launched an initiative across our network called 5S (Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain). The 5S process has roots in a widely recognized business approach called Lean, which helps organizations operate more efficiently and effectively based on the needs of customers. Specifically, our 5S effort aims to stop the hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted each year due to unused, overstocked and outdated drugs and supplies in our clinical spaces—in addition to the costly waste of time.
Sutter Gould Medical Foundation pediatrician Alberto Cajigas, M.D., said, “At first, I was afraid to implement 5S, but to my surprise, I am now actually able to see more patients. Now, when I go to any pediatric care center at Sutter Gould—in Lodi, Stockton, Modesto or Turlock—I feel at home. I have everything I need to see my patients, no matter where I go. I never have to step out of the room to ask my medical assistant for something we ran out of. Items are easy to find, and I don’t have to look for supplies—everything is in the right spot.”
The 5S initiative helps:
- Reduce the drug and supply cost per 100,000 patients by 10 percent.
- Organize every outpatient exam room, hospital operating room and wholly owned ambulatory surgery center operating room.
- Document any square footage reclaimed for a higher use through this work.