A large coastal healthcare organization consistently asks more of its vendors than most comparable institutions and relies on an off-the-shelf vendor credentialing system that symplr customized to ensure the ultimate in compliance and facilitate tracking and reporting.
Because this healthcare organization consistently requires customization and upgrades to meet its needs, it needs to know it can depend on its suppliers to provide exactly that. Specifically, its supplier must be open to ongoing collaboration and agree to readily implement and maintain certain controls that are atypical in most healthcare environments.
This healthcare group diligently ensures that persons who come on site have a legitimate, confirmed reason for their onsite presence. Over the years, the organization has recognized just how vital those additional controls are, yet to this day, only select providers offer verification as a standard capability.
The organization’s real “Aha!” moment came when a surgical director asked how a vendor’s rep had been able to access and display their products in the surgeon’s lounge since the vendor was not the healthcare group’s preferred supplier. It was later discovered that although registered and credentialed, the vendor and rep had not been verified by its then credentialing provider.
The coastal healthcare organization’s verification now requires vendors to submit agreements to their clearing house, to confirm a pre-existing relationship. The clearing house confirms, countersigns and submits the documentation to symplr for review and verification before vendors can obtain their in-compliance Green Light.
Visiting Vendors Support and Educate – NOT Sell
“Access to our facilities is a privilege that we grant – it is not a right,” says the healthcare organization’s supply chain director, who notes their group shifted to an automated, digitized vendor credentialing system from its entirely manual legacy system about 10 years ago. “Vendors must confirm a pre-existing relationship with our healthcare organization and be onsite either to support a product we already use or educate us about a product that we’re considering. In our eyes, they are not here to sell us!”
Adds the supply chain manager for a children’s hospital in California, “Our pediatric hospital policy is designed to maximize patient security and we needed comparable measures for our vendors. Vendor credentialing is for the good of our patients and our staff so it’s a nonnegotiable requirement and cost of doing business with our children’s hospital. In essence, our children’s hospital is the lawmaker and symplr is the enforcer keeping me aware of anything I need to know about with personal follow-ups.”
The supply director points out their coastal healthcare organization asks no more of its vendors and their reps than of its own employees. Its 12 to 18 current vendor requirements include insurance, HIPAA agreements, vaccinations and training as well as such basics as an annual reread of the healthcare organization’s code of conduct and updating certain training.
Notably, the coastal healthcare organization was one of the first healthcare facilities nationwide to implement influenza shots and thanks to symplr’s willingness to adapt and accommodate customer needs, additional requirements and exceptions were readily incorporated.
The coastal healthcare organization, which has both open-access and lockdown facilities, became even more diligent about ensuring security and safety for all after someone’s wallet was stolen. Since committing to ever more stringent registration, credentialing and verification as well as DART, security staff and other employees don’t see random visitors roaming the buildings. Every vendor must have a day pass as well as a badge. In general, reps must use DART to gain entrance, but select reps are granted exceptions, for example orthopedics suppliers who need to be onsite daily.
Vendor Credentialing System Flexibility is Essential
“symplr’s willingness and ability to adapt their system to our requirements puts us in control while recognizing that to facilitate day-to-day business, we have to work with and always be prepared for the unexpected because that’s also a given,” says the coastal healthcare organization’s supply chain director.
The children’s hospital’s supply chain director adds, “We’d rather be proactive than reactive so we invested in prevention. You never want to see your organization in the news because something bad has happened. At a glance, I can see if a rep is somewhere they shouldn’t be – the data puts me in control and gives me a sense of security. I know if a rep’s visits are legitimate.”
Both the children’s hospital and the coastal healthcare group know that initial and ongoing background, sex offender and a variety of other checks are important to the security of their patients, staff and visitors. When a previous provider couldn’t provide proof that OIG checks had been run, management had one more reason to approach symplr.
“Vendors are often seen as an extension of our staff and reflect what we stand for,” says the supply chain director at the coastal healthcare organization. “My peace of mind depends on knowing those checks have been run and are updated regularly.”
The transparency and visibility available with symplr’s real-time dashboards and reports provide the hard data the supply chain team requires to best manage and control vendors. Over time, symplr’s detailed data and reporting have provided answers to an extraordinary array of puzzles. At a glance, the supply chain director and team members can find a rep onsite in real-time or track their complete visit history with the healthcare organization.
symplr Data, Dashboards and Reports Solve Mysteries
The data invariably tells a fascinating tale. When an anonymous caller reported that a certain vendor’s rep was non-compliant, symplr told the healthcare organization that the rep was registered, credentialed, compliant and using DART. However, it also became apparent the rep visited more frequently than their single drug and its simple administration required. With tangible evidence the rep was taking advantage of the healthcare organization and its systems, the supply chain director revisited their organization’s vendor and rep expectations.
While the coastal healthcare organization requires vendors to don scrubs to access restricted areas, such as the OR, cath and endovascular labs, it also stipulates they change out of them before leaving the premises. Yet periodically, social media posts show non-employees sporting the healthcare organization’s scrubs in a variety of unexpected locations. The supply chain director even bumped into scrubs-wearers in the dentist’s waiting room as well as various lobbies.
As flattering as it may be that people want to be associated with the coastal healthcare organization, the unauthorized and inappropriate wearing of scrubs is a serious issue. Not only do people assume the scrubs wearers represent or are affiliated with the healthcare organization, there can be enormous costs associated with the loss of scrubs.
“symplr’s traceability gives us the ultimate in transparency,” says the supply chain director at the coastal healthcare organization. “Anyone wearing our logoed uniforms offsite is violating our policy and will receive a sanction letter and eventually, if necessary, they will be banned to protect our image in the community and manage operating costs.”
Thanks to symplr, another mystery was also solved at the coastal healthcare organization. A cardiology rep who supported pacemakers received a proxy card to give him access to different areas outside regular business hours. Yet symplr showed unofficial multiple, ongoing late night and weekend visits that didn’t make any sense until the supply chain team learned the rep was visiting a friend that worked in that department.
symplr Encourages & Facilitates Best Practice-Sharing
“The exponential increase in the quantity and quality of the data gathered continues to pay off for us,” says the supply chain director, who discovers and improves his use of various symplr features, including the dashboards and reports, by attending their user group meetings. “symplr’s products continuously evolve to better meet our needs because they listen and act on our feedback.”
Elsewhere, a materials management director at a women’s hospital in Louisiana opted into symplr’s monthly newsletter, participates in monthly online forums and conference calls to interact and engage with other customers and symplr employees.
“I like learning from other hospitals’ challenges and best practices and symplr really encourages, facilitates and supports that,” adds the Louisiana women’s hospital’s materials management director.