Three Strategies for an Efficient Healthcare Supply Chain

January 21, 2016 - Leave a Response

Caretech Group_Blog_Three Strategies for an Efficient Supply ChainSupply chains account for roughly 25% of a healthcare facility’s operating budget, and a recent report from Healthcare IT News suggests that this percentage will only increase in coming years. While the rising cost of care has pinched some healthcare facilities, new reporting software, purchasing platforms, and maintenance trackers are helping stretch each dollar without sacrificing quality. Caretech Group offers healthcare facilities top-to-bottom IT consulting, low prices from group purchasing organizations (GPOs), and objective reporting and tracking from an advanced suite of digital tools. We don’t simply help healthcare facilities make the best purchases, we help them create systems that ensure smart purchasing, documentation, use, and maintenance of every asset—from toilet paper to advanced diabetics equipment.

Obtain “Buy-in” from Upper Management

If you’re a purchasing director, you know the needs of your supply chain better than anyone. All too often, purchasing directors are not given the tools they need to maximize profits and minimize spending. That’s where we come in. Our suite of digital tools track orders, invoices, and even automate maintenance orders. The first thing you’ve got to do to build an efficient supply chain is get everyone on board.

Bring the Team Together

To tackle supply chain issues, healthcare facilities must get input from all departments. That means multiple perspectives and points of view. The supply chain affects everyone in an healthcare facility, whether they realize it or not. The most mundane tasks, like keeping track of invoices and maintenance projects, have a direct result on the quality of care, and that’s why it’s important to bring together everyone from nurses to upper level management. You’ve just got to explain the benefits of a streamlined supply chain.

Recognize the Importance of Data

When it comes down to it, supply chains are all about data—or at least they should be. Data gives healthcare facilities, and indeed all organizations, the power to make objective decisions. Important decisions present themselves at every level of the supply chain, including supply procurement, price negotiation, inventory control, distribution, and maintenance. The only way to cut costs in a sustainable, holistic way is to have data from every level of the supply chain. That’s where the Caretech Group comes in. The Caretrak® suite gathers data on everything from invoicing to delivery and inventory levels—and all of it is aggregated into easy-to-read charts and graphs.

Supply Chain Management from Caretech Group

To gauge supply chain success, one must have supply chain goals. Caretech Group can help you develop and meet objective supply chain goals. Our consultants will give you the purchasing power of a group purchasing organization (GPO), plus we’ll give you the IT systems to stretch savings for years to come.  Unnecessary expenditures can pop up almost anywhere in a supply chain. Caretech Group can help your facility identify areas that need improvement and start correcting them. Visit our homepage or contact us today for more information.

Wearable Artificial Kidney Offers Huge Possibilities for Nursing Home Tenants

December 18, 2015 - Leave a Response

Wearable Artificial Kidney Offers Huge Possibilities for Nursing Home Tenants

There’s hope for patients with diabetes and kidney disease: a portable machine that could reduce or even eliminate the need for dialysis and organ transplants. Called a “wearable kidney,” the device was developed by researchers in Washington state.

Traditional Dialysis

Dialysis has evolved very little since it was developed in the 1960s. Dialysis machines perform the job of healthy kidneys when patients’ kidneys are at or near failure. They remove waste, extra water, salt, and other chemicals from the blood and balance blood pressure. At the moment, dialysis treatment is a temporary solution. Kidney failure is usually permanent, and the only long-term solution is either life-long dialysis or an organ transplant.

Limitations of Traditional Dialysis

The average life expectancy of patients on dialysis is between 5-10 years. Most patients waiting for transplants must undergo dialysis treatments multiple times a week at the dialysis center of their local hospital. Besides the fact that dialysis is only a temporary solution, it’s also expensive. Patients undergoing dialysis struggle to lead normal lives. They must carefully control their diets, and their schedules are dominated by their treatments.

Successful Test of the Wearable Artificial Kidney

So far the wearable artificial kidney has been tested on several patients with varying levels of success. The greatest success was with a 73-year old patient, Chuck Lee, who wore it for a period of 24 hours. Lee has oriented his entire life around dialysis treatments, which he must receive three times a week for four hours at a time. His experience with the wearable artificial kidney was a revelation. For his safety, he wasn’t allowed to leave the hospital, but he was able to walk around—a huge improvement over sitting in one place for hours at a time—and eat food he hadn’t tasted in years.

Promise for the Future

Future patients will be able to go where they wish and lead normal lives. Because the device is constantly working, patients will be able to eat what they want—including food high in potassium and phosphorus, which dialysis cannot filter. The wearable kidney is still in an experimental phase, but it could eventually present a viable alternative to kidney transplants and improve the quality of life for nursing home and assisted living residents with diabetes and kidney disease.

Caretech Group Provides Cutting-Edge Technology and Rapid Delivery

Already, the FDA has fast tracked their evaluation of the device. If approved, Caretech Group will work directly with suppliers to provide its clients with the device as soon as possible. We partner with nursing homes and assisted living facilities to provide the best medical supplies available at competitive prices. Our focus on innovation and efficiency includes inventory management and end-to-end operational assessments. Visit our homepage for more information on how we reduce costs and improve service.

Hand Hygiene and Disease Prevention

November 20, 2015 - Leave a Response

International Infection Prevention Week

Shortly after the Infectious Disease Week conference earlier this month, the world recognized International Infection Prevention Week. The leading minds in contagious disease met and discussed new research, new guidelines for safety, and novel concepts to keep the public safe. With Ebola still affecting parts of the globe and well-known bacteria like Clostridium difficile continuing to cause infections in the United States and elsewhere, the message was clear: infection prevention is still a priority, no matter where you are.

Infection Prevention

The experts of the conference were in agreement that the best formula for fighting infectious diseases is prevention. Hand hygiene was of particular note, as many infectious diseases can be contracted from skin contact. As a Group Purchasing Ordering (GPO) provider supplying hand hygiene products to nursing homes, where many residents have weakened immune systems, we were particularly interested in the results of the conference. We’re not just suppliers, however. We also perform detailed assessments on our clients’ facilities to ensure that operations are being carried out efficiently.

Hygiene Compliance

While there are established guidelines set forth by the World Health Organization for hand hygiene, recent studies have suggested that many medical workers fail to properly sanitize their hands. When you think about it, the average person doesn’t know best practices about how to wash hands. For most of us, it’s not that important how we wash our hands—just as long as they get washed. Doctors must be held to a higher standard. The study found that over 98% of clinicians adequately wash their palms, but less than half sanitize the backs of their hands, 44% sanitize their fingertips, and only 37% clean their thumbs. Improvement can be made by providing clinicians with standardized hand-washing techniques, but also by providing more up-to-date hand sanitizing products. That’s where Caretech Group comes in.

How Caretech Group Helps

Caretech Group is playing an active role in the fight against preventable infectious diseases. We provide nursing homes and assisted living facilities with cutting-edge products—including hand sanitizing systems—at competitive prices. Our end-to-end operational assessments play a key role in highlighting areas in which our clients can improve—operationally, financially, logistically, and otherwise. We enhance our clients’ workflow with a variety of easy-to-use, intuitive applications that track purchases and inventory, ensuring that our clients never run out of essential disease-preventing products. For more information on our services, please visit our homepage or give us a call at (866) 338-2129.

Forget About The Old Methods: New Alzheimer’s Test Poised To Change Industry

March 26, 2014 - Leave a Response

Here is a revolutionary piece of news about Alzheimer’s Disease that you won’t forget anytime soon.

According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, a team of researchers at Georgetown University have developed a simple blood test which they say can predict, with 90 percent accuracy, whether an individual will develop Alzheimer’s Disease within 2-3 years. 

If larger studies uphold the results, the test could fill a major gap in strategies to combat brain degeneration, which is thought to show symptoms only at a stage when it too late to treat effectively.

Currently, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Several promising therapies have been tested in clinical trials over the last few years, but all have failed. However, those trials involved people who had already developed symptoms. Many neuroscientists fear that any benefits of a treatment would be missed in such a study, because it could be impossible to halt the disease once it has manifested in such a severe manner.

The implementation of biomarkers would allow patients to be identified – and recruited into trials – way before their symptoms begin, allowing for a better analysis of potential therapies.

While this is obviously very good news for the over 35 million people worldwide who develop Alzheimer’s disease each year, it may present an unintended consequence: It could destroy private long-term care insurance and any future voluntary government insurance program. A widely available test to predict Alzheimer’s would make any form of voluntary long-term care insurance virtually impossible.

Those scoring positive on the tests will immediate purchase long-term care insurance, eventually overwhelming the system when they become affected. Should insurers get access to the test results, they will either deny coverage or charge significantly higher premiums.

Currently,  more than half of all LTC insurance claims are for cognitive impairment. Surveys show that those who think they are going to contract Alzheimer’s are far more likely to buy than those who don’t.

So the dilemma now deepens.

What happens to those who learn, through this new blood test, they are fated to suffer cognitive impairment with no recognized cure? As a consequence of that knowledge, will they potentially lose access to the only lifeline available to pay for what will prove to be very costly care? What other unseen consequences will arise as a result of this wondrous Alzheimer’s blood test breakthrough?

These are all questions worth asking. Even if we don’t have the answers yet.

A Crazy Tale About Medication Fraud: Teva Pharmaceuticals Forced To Pay Up

March 12, 2014 - Leave a Response

Just how crazy is the following story?

You decide.

According to Crain’s Business Magazine, prominent pharmaceutical manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals and a subsidiary have agreed to pay approximately $28 million to the state of Illinois and the United States in a settlement, following claims that Teva paid a Chicago psychiatrist to prescribe an anti-psychotic medication to thousands of nursing home patients insured by the government.

Details released from the office of the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois alleged that in the aftermath of large payments made by Teva to psychiatrist Dr. Michael Reinstein, the doctor apparently became the largest prescriber of generic clozapine in the country.

“Pharmaceutical companies must not be allowed to improperly influence physicians’ decisions in prescribing medication for their patients,” U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said in a written statement. “Instead, those decisions must be made solely on the basis of the patient’s best medical interests.”

It behooves us all to stay within the boundaries of responsibility and not let money be the be-all-and-end-all. As you can see from this story, this pharmaceutical giant thought that playing the system was going to be super profitable.

To put it mildly: They were crazy for thinking that.

The Upcoming White House Agenda: Leaving Us In The Red?

March 5, 2014 - Leave a Response

Time to punch yet another hole in your money belt – things are getting tighter.

The belt buckling and cost-cutting taking place our industry is hitting yet another unprecedented level. According to a recent article in McKnights Magazine, The White House’s proposed 2015 budget includes sharp cuts to skilled nursing facility reimbursements, which has drawn strong criticism from the nation’s largest long-term care provider group.

The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living – the nation’s largest provider group – slammed the proposed Medicare reductions, noting that the sector has “endured billions in cuts” in recent years.

With the healthcare industry taking so many hits in recent years, one wonders what this new piece of news will do to make things go from bad to worse.

Public response on blogs and social media has varied.

It ranged from anger (“They want to cut nursing home reimbursement even though care is increasingly complex, our aging population is about to explode… and everyone expects us to provide flawless care?!”) to apathy (“There’s no point in fighting with those ruthless politicians, I’m looking for a career change!”) to disbelief (“How do we possibly create the next generation of healthcare leaders when there is nothing positive to promote?”).

Regardless of which category you relate best to, it’s becoming increasingly evident that the old way of doing business is over.

But all hope is not lost.

Yet.

The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living is supporting proposals that could achieve savings without slashing reimbursements – such as penalizing SNFs that have high hospital readmissions rates.

This tidbit, in particular, caught our eye.

While we cannot always fight the system or change the White House’s agenda, we can put into place procedures that actively work around the labyrinth of complexities being thrown at us each day.

Consider things like customized patient software programs to drastically reduce readmission rates; aggregating your spending data from each supplier and consolidating it into one reporting system for increased financial monitoring; custom sourcing for supplies, equipment and specialty products to help slash costs. These strategic tactics are all tried and true.

So forget about going into the red. Discover smarter solutions – it’s the new black.

Cleaning Up Shop: Why Is The FDA Seeking To Ban Anti-Bacterial Soap Ingredients?

December 16, 2013 - Leave a Response

The US Food and Drug Administration announced a proposed regulation on Monday to ban certain ingredients in anti-bacterial soaps if manufacturers cannot prove that these products are safe to use and more effective than plain soap and water for preventing the spread of infections.

Such a move will likely force makers of personal hygiene products to reformulate all bar soaps, liquid soaps, body washes, and dishwashing liquids labeled as “anti-bacterial” and “antimicrobial” to keep them on store shelves.

According to The Boston Globe, antibacterial soaps made by companies including Dial, Lever, and Dove contain chemicals that have a spotty safety record. “Some data suggest that long-term exposure to certain active ingredients used in antibacterial products — for example, triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps) — could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects,” according to a statement released by the FDA.

Almost all soaps labeled “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial” contain at least one of the antibacterial ingredients that the FDA is proposing to ban. Household cleaning products and some toothpastes may also contain them.

Liquid hand sanitizers, such as Purell, and anti-bacterial wipes do not contain the worrisome ingredients. These “leave on” products contain alcohol to kill germs and aren’t affected by the planned regulation, according to the FDA.

“Antibacterial soaps and body washes are used widely and frequently by consumers in everyday home, work, school, and public settings, where the risk of infection is relatively low,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Due to consumers’ extensive exposure to the ingredients in antibacterial soaps, we believe there should be a clearly demonstrated benefit from using antibacterial soap to balance any potential risk.”

Manufaturers will have about six months to respond to the planned regulation, which likely won’t be implemented for at least a year. For now, the FDA recommends using plain soap and water to wash hands and to avoid using antibacterial soaps, which will remain on the market for now. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol should be used.

What will this potential ban spell for the healthcare industry? Nobody is quite sure yet. But it sure wouldn’t hurt to stock up on those bottles of Purell and boxes of anti-bacterial wipes… just in case.

Modern Medicine Gone Insane: Debate Over Antipsychotic Usage Flaring Up In Massachusetts

November 18, 2013 - Leave a Response

The folks up in Boston are going absolutely crazy – and it’s not because the Red Sox won the World Series.

According to a recent article in the Boston Globe, an ongoing debate over nursing homes’ use of antipsychotics flared during a meeting of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs.

Three separate bills under consideration would require written consent from nursing home residents or their legal representatives prior to administration of antipsychotic drugs. Two of the consent bills are in the Senate and one is being considered by the House.

Representatives of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society said the requirements would hamstring caregivers, to the detriment of residents who genuinely need antipsychotics.

Supporters believe unnecessary antipsychotic prescribing is harming residents.

The Bay State has one of the highest antipsychotic prescribing rates in the country, according to a 2010 Globe analysis. This analysis spurred the Massachusetts Senior Care Foundation to launch an antipsychotic reduction campaign.

Of course, it’s also possible that the insanely high price tags of name-brand medications may have caused some people in New England to simply go crazy.

Maybe they should start considering generics. 

Bringing The Point Home: Why Does The Government Want To Keep LTC Patients Housed Up?

November 14, 2013 - Leave a Response

Just when you thought our political leaders couldn’t possibly shake up the healthcare industry any more than they already have, politicians in the State of New York figured out how to do just that.

An October report released by officials outlines a plan to keep more LTC patients in the community and out of nursing or adult homes. The plan sets a goal of a 10 percent reduction in the number of long-stay nursing home residents over the next five years and a corresponding increase in the availability of housing and services in the community.

This may come as unwelcome news to an industry that relies on keeping the bed count full to ensure profitability.

Long-term-care patients who need help walking or are wheelchair-bound used to have to move into a nursing home. That changed last month when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law allowing state-designated assisted living programs to care for people needing an extra level of mobility support.

These are people who need functional assistance, but not necessarily around-the-clock nursing care. The State of New York is of the opinion that letting people stay where they are is better for the residents.

Although this point remains debatable – particularly in light of the fact that these elderly patients may have no family or friends to keep a watchful eye out on them – the fact that New York would ordinarily be footing the bill for patients residing in LTC facilities may have played a greater role in this decision.

Click the link below for more information about this story:
http://www.uticaod.com/news/x1783716085/State-plan-aims-to-keep-more-seniors-out-of-nursing-homes

Ultimately, the ones left holding the proverbial bag here are the LTC facilities themselves.

Which leads us to procurement solutions. GPO services. Utilization management.

These things will become the universal standard; the need to drastically reduce expenditures will now be kicking into overdrive. And it took a questionable government initiative aimed at keeping the elderly and infirm in their houses to bring that point home.

Deathly Serious: Venezuela’s Health System Collapsing As Hospitals Run Short On Medical Supplies

November 6, 2013 - Leave a Response

Will Venezuela prove to be the newest battleground for GPOs in the medical supply industry looking to expand market share across the globe?

Only time will tell.

As Venezuela reels in political and economic crisis, hospitals continue to send sick patients home from a medical system on the brink of collapse.

At Central Hospital in Maracay, doctors last month discharged some 300 cancer patients when medical supply shortages forced triage, leaving most non-emergency patients — the long-term sick — without any treatment. 

Doctors in Venezuela say no government healthcare statistics have been collected since 2010, although they know for sure they’re lacking medical supplies across the gamut: needles, syringes, paraffin used in biopsies for cancer diagnostics, X-ray film, imaging paper, and so forth.

To further complicate this appalling situation, Venezuela suspended organ donations and transplants, as 70 percent of the country’s radiotherapy machines clunked out of repair.

In a country of nearly 30 million people, the medical shortages continue to harm many cancer patients. In an estimate from Douglas Natera, president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation, radiotherapy machine shortages may cut cancer treatment for 5,000 of the current 19,000 cancer patients requiring care.

For additional details about this ongoing story, please click the following link:

 http://www.medicaldaily.com/venezuelas-health-system-verges-collapse-hospitals-run-short-supplies-262145

Ironically, the collapse of Venezuela’s medical system follows the death from cancer of the late authoritarian leader Hugo Chavez, a “socialist hero” to many in Latin America. It would be truly fascinating to see the sickly health system of Venezuela healed by “capitalist companies” hailing from the United States of America.

But frankly, what other realistic options are there?

Apparently, dependable medical supply companies in that pitiful region are – no pun intended here – in rather short supply.

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