Mercy Radically Redefines Tackle Box

May 20, 2010


Rick Dodson, Mercy Memorial

central supply technician

You can’t catch a swordfish using a fly-fisherman’s tackle box and you can’t remove a gall bladder using open heart surgery tools. In the operating room, physicians and medical staff require very different medical “tackle boxes.”

By designing and building a new process for medical “toolkits” from the ground up, Mercy has streamlined manufacturing and in doing so was recently named the national Supply Chain Excellence in Healthcare award winner – the top industry award at the 2010 Integrated Delivery Network (IDN) Summit & Expo in Orlando, Florida.

“Mercy is radically redefining the way we get the tools to our medical team so they provide better patient care,” said John Black, vice president of Resource Optimization & Innovation (ROi), Mercy’s supply chain division. “We’ve taken the guessing game out of the process and provided price transparency, medical team input and reduced the turnaround time to change out items in the pack – a critical piece for our doctors and staff.”

Creating medical toolkits, or custom packs, for operating rooms across the nation has often been a process riddled with unforeseen price hikes for supplies, long wait times to make needed changes to the kit’s contents and common unauthorized substitution for tools not approved by the medical team.

About a year ago, Mercy took the program in-house. By controlling the process from beginning to end, Mercy has cut turnaround time in half for pack changes and reduced costs by 20 percent with a self-manufactured, FDA-registered customized operation. The combination of clinical integration, improved service and lower costs has increased the program in facilities already using customer packs. It has also expanded into facilities not using packs because of a lack of trust in programs controlled by traditional commercial vendors.

“We wanted a completely transparent process with no hidden costs,” said Vance Moore, Mercy ROi president. “We want our clinical team to know the price of every item and its associated assembly cost. This program puts the control where it should be – in the hands of the frontline clinical teams. They now have complete knowledge and power of controlling component selection and cost. They also have the assurance that their product decision will remain in place until they decide changes need to be made instead of some sales rep making the decision for them. And because we’ve made the process more efficient and listened to our end-user – our own clinical team across four states – the program has grown 136 percent.”

Mercy’s custom packs, or custom procedure trays, are assembled in Mercy’s 6,000-square-foot facility in Springfield, Missouri. Besides receiving the IDN Summit award, Mercy was named among the top healthcare supply chain operations in the world earlier this year, just second overall to global giant Johnson & Johnson. Mercy serves 30 communities in a four-state area that includes Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.