From Policy to Practice: How St. Luke’s Achieved 93% Vendor Compliance

CUSTOMER PROFILE

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Idaho's Largest Employer

FACILITIES: 11

BEDS: 1,183

MEDICAL STAFF: 1,800+ physicians & advanced practice providers

 

THE CHALLENGE

Like many health systems navigating the intricacies of vendor compliance, St. Luke's Health System, the only Idaho-based not-for-profit health system, faced significant challenges in managing vendor relationships and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. The primary issue was the lack of infrastructure to support a standardized approach to the vendor check-in process. Disparate processes across departments and locations left room for non-compliance and security breaches. Further, a lack of standard check-in process and data posed a risk of unauthorized access to sensitive areas. Many internal team members and vendors were not aware of the critical role they played in maintaining compliance, resulting in a lack of accountability and vigilance. The health system needed a comprehensive approach that would standardize vendor management processes, protect compliance, and cultivate a culture of safety and responsibility among staff and vendors.

THE SOLUTION

To address these challenges, St. Luke's Health System executed a phased approach to methodically improve compliance.

Phase 1

Dedicated to setting up the infrastructure to develop a strong process for vendor check-ins, phase 1 focused on the policy and mechanics of the process and technology:
  • Created a policy with leadership sign-off
  • Standardized vendor credentials across patient access levels and locations, emphasizing the “one system, one standard” approach to vendor compliance   
  • Onboarded critical access locations and clinics 
  • Implemented symplr Access to securely manage vendor relationships and facilitate quick, safe vendor check-ins

Phase 2

For the next phase of their vendor compliance improvement process, the health system focused on targeted departmental education programs:
  • Developed training documents and communication to explain the “why” behind the program, emphasizing the importance of vendor check-ins in maintaining safety and compliance and how internal teams are the first line of defense against non-compliance
  • Educated physicians on the policy and process during their onboarding
    Implemented compliance roadshows tailored to the needs of various clinical and non-clinical teams, including:
  • Hospital surgical/procedural departments and other vulnerable areas
  • Security team, who received demonstrations on how to use symplr Access to easily view who’s checked-in across the facility
  • Special training for vendor reps to help them understand their responsibilities and the potential consequences of non-compliance, including both the risk to the organization and the safety risk to patients

Human-centric approach

The initiative to improve vendor compliance and enhance patient and staff safety at St. Luke’s was spearheaded by their Lead Analyst, Crystal Geibel. She recognized the importance of connecting on a human level when discussing the impact of compliance.

“Whenever I meet with vendors and internal teams who question the importance of check-ins, I personalize the issue by asking, ‘would you want an undocumented person in the room with your grandmother while she was receiving a procedure?’” Crystal explained. “That typically gets the point across.”

THE RESULTS

St. Luke’s comprehensive approach to addressing safety and vendor compliance, supported by the implementation of symplr Access, yielded remarkable results – increasing overall vendor compliance from 55% to 93%.

The roadshows to various departments and robust training materials have fostered a sustained culture of accountability and vigilance. For example, Crystal and her team partnered with the cardiac and electrophysiology departments to identify their top five vendors who were causing 80% of their compliance violations. This insight coupled with department education led to a check-in documentation increase from 10-15 vendors per month to about 200.

By having the proper infrastructure and comprehensive policies in place, the health system established a robust foundation to continue measuring, monitoring, and sustaining compliance. As a result, they now have the necessary data for auditing body reviews to comply with the Joint Commission mandates for knowing who is present on campus, what they are doing, and whether they are in compliance.

Crystal Geibel“symplr Access enables St. Luke’s to meet requirements by providing our teams with immediate access to user-friendly dashboards, which display real-time information about who has checked in and if they’re in compliance. This tool helps ensure that we maintain the required level of visibility to uphold regulatory standards.”

-Crystal Geibel, Lead Analyst at St. Luke's Health System

St. Luke’s Health System has strategically improved their vendor compliance program through technology, process, and culture using a human-centric approach. Vendor reps better understand the importance of maintaining compliance and the real-world impact of their actions, while staff are equipped to help stop non-compliance in its tracks. St. Luke’s has not only minimized compliance violations and organizational risks but has also enhanced patient and staff safety, efficiency, and security across the board.

 

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