By Ray Clegg, Director, Logistical Operations, OC Reilly, Inc.

(June 7, 2021)—Andrew Carnegie, the richest man in the world in his day, once said, “Put all your eggs in one basket, then watch that basket.” That was another way of saying: Maximize the assets you have, and anything that does not bring a benefit, eliminate.

Managing waste has long been recognized as a variable that can and should be pursued, as per Carnegie’s advice. That holds true in the world of health care supply, as well.

According to the National Academy of Medicine, roughly 20 percent of surgical supplies purchased in the U.S. never gets used. That equates to approximately $765 billion in wasted investment – more than the entire budget of the U.S. Department of Defense. Bring that enormous figure down to the individual health system or hospital level, and it still represents hundreds of thousands of dollars spent with no return whatsoever. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Effective health care supply chain must include careful monitoring of inventory. What is needed by which date? What has become obsolete or out of date, and must be removed? How can the timing of supplies be better synchronized and coordinated with the actual patterns of usage and need? It’s a constant juggling act, but it does not have to be random or open to chance or wasteful practices.

When executives and managers within health care systems remain open to input from internal purchasing groups, inventory clerks, and others involved in surgical product management, ideas and innovations can take root. One problem, though, comes in the possibility that those frontline voices can feel inhibited or intimidated in speaking up.

That’s where having a third-party advocate can benefit everyone interested in minimizing waste. As national experts on health care supply chain trends and practices, the OC Reilly team can gather ideas from those directly impacted by inventory issues, explain and promote those ideas to leaders capable of implementing them, and assist in executing those improvements.

Because, after all, you’ve got to watch that basket.

© 2021 OC Reilly, Inc.