Innovation in Value Analysis: A Case Study
By Sue Toomey, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Value Analysis Coordinator
Let’s face it, as Value Analysis professionals we thrive to enhance services, improve utilization, keep staff and clinicians satisfied, and reduce total overall costs while providing quality patient care. We use a variety of strategies to achieve this goal – and a particularly useful communication approach is selling ease of use of the product to be evaluated to the end user, the clinicians and the ease of delivery (from package to patient). This article describes how the use of a team approach led to cost savings and the controlled use of product.
The Cost of innovation:
Advanced Hemostats & Sealants, a relative newcomer to the surgery market, a product perceived to increase efficiency of care for our patients have significantly increased annual supply expenses. Keep in mind, a few years back, hospitals did not really incur any major expense in this category (wound closure and hemostasis) until these types of products were developed by manufacturers. Now we have a new, and growing (with many new competing products being added every day) major product line to manage and track as value analysis professionals to ensure that we are keeping our costs low and quality high.
Optimizing Care Team:
In performing a value analysis review of the Advanced Hemostats and Sealants products at Lehigh Valley Health Network, we were surprised to find that the various sizes of applicators (ml’s) were being over utilized and causing a major cost overrun. This can easily occur because clinicians do not know the total cost to these types of products. Clinicians use the products but they don’t actually buy them which limits their ability to evaluate the cost and benefit in the selection of product to offer for use, e.g., utilizing a larger size when a smaller size product would offer the same benefit, without impact on quality and with reduced cost. Strategic implementation of the Lehigh Valley Health Network measurement processes allows for a multidisciplinary team skilled in clinical and business knowledge, reviews these types of product lines using clinician consumption and weight calculations. The results provide an eye opening perspective to the use and total cost of this and other major product lines.
Interprofessional combined knowledge and influence provides leveraging for managing both cost and quality.
Our Optimizing Care Team (OCT) process provides for Interprofessional
sharing of this type of information with our clinicians providing a platform to review intended use of products allowing guidelines and restrictions,
based on evidence based review , to control and reduce the usage of innovated products. Often, when increased utilization and costs are recognized it is determined that we should be evaluating competitive products.
Such products are then escalated to OCT and vendor competition is initiated, processes are reviewed, and suppliers are engaged to problem solve product utilization issues (availability of selected sizes and packaging modalities). The goal of the OCT is to transition products to an alternative (quality and cost focused) vendor who has the value analysis philosophy and clinician collaboration model that aligns with our network.
In this instance, LVHN was able to contribute to a total overall cost savings reduction of 45%
to get Advanced Hemostats and Sealant products back under control.
Managing quality and cost will continue to remain a focus of health care organizations that achieve and exceed their financial bottom line. Interprofessional collaboration is an essential competency to evaluate clinical application of product, but also to analyze value of use – and after all, isn’t that the true meaning of value analysis?