All Eyes are on Suture Management in the Next Phase of COVID-19 Response

Hospitals are changing how they manage sutures and endo-mechanical in a post COVID-19 world.

July 8, 2021

The year of 2020 was tumultuous for the healthcare industry as care providers navigated evolving safety policies and supply chain constraints along with unprecedented care demand during the peak of the pandemic. As vaccine rollout progresses and infection rates decrease, the landscape remains forever altered. Elective procedures are becoming increasingly widespread, but the changes in staffing and inventory management spurred by the pandemic mean that processes and procedures can’t simply return to the way they were.

OR supply teams changed in structure to meet evolving needs during the pandemic. Supply planning also changed—both in order to avoid shortages in the future and to align with new requirements in PPE and other materials. “Prior to COVID, many hospitals really didn’t ‘manage’ their inventories of sutures and endo-mechanical,” said Freddie Faubion, Director of Service Line Strategy at Owens & Minor. “Instead, they relied on gut instinct and visual cues to make critical inventory decisions around what to order and when to order it.”

During COVID, there wasn’t a need to change that approach. Hospitals focused on the pandemic, while elective surgeries were dramatically curtailed or even eliminated. How a hospital managed sutures and endo-mechanical was never an issue. That’s changed now that vaccines are becoming more widespread and more restrictions are lifting.

If anything, however, this next phase of pandemic response has made managing sutures and endo-mechanical even more challenging. Coming out of COVID and restrictions on elective procedures, many hospitals had reduced their workforce and didn’t have the resources to manage suture and endomechanical inventory, stated Faubion.” Compounding the problem was the pent-up demand for elective surgeries post-COVID.

“Many hospitals have seen an increase in elective surgeries above historical levels because people pushed them off last year,”
- Freddie Faubion, Director of Service Line Strategy at Owens & Minor

While this shifting landscape can present challenges, it also presents opportunities. Inventory management, especially for wound closures, can be challenging, time-consuming, and highly variable, resulting in wasted inventory and high costs. Following COVID restrictions, many hospitals are especially interested in reducing waste and increasing cost savings. Solutions like Owens & Minor’s PANDACSM, a comprehensive, on-site product inventory program, can help control purchases and eliminates excess wound closure inventory while maintaining supply levels.

COVID has fundamentally changed how hospitals operate in so many ways including suture management. Many realize that they can’t go back to how they used to manage sutures. “Pre-COVID, many hospitals had high suture inventory and excessive costs,” said Faubion. “A lot of hospitals still feel that they need to manage the suture and endo-mechanical inventory on their own, just like they did pre-COVID. But once again, they end up finding themselves short of the time and resources when it comes down to it, which can lead to wasted material and expense.”

As elective procedures ramp-up to pre-pandemic levels, hospitals are still dealing with cost and inventory challenges related to the pandemic response. According to Faubion, during this phase of reopening, “hospitals are increasingly seeing the value outsourcing sutures, and having access to the detailed inventory analytics that PANDAC provides. New customers are able to see savings right out of the gate.” One customer, a not-for-profit healthcare organization headquartered in the Mid-Atlantic, turned to PANDAC to try to streamline their costs. Following a pilot test at two facilities, they achieved such remarkable savings that they immediately rolled out PANDAC across the full enterprise.

Another customer, a large, east-coast university health system, had been driving supply efficiency with Owens & Minor’s distribution and QSight inventory management systems, but was looking for ways to streamline sutures and endo-mechanical.

“PANDAC was a natural fit. By bringing in a solution like PANDAC, they were able to not only save valuable time for their staff, but also achieve an incredible $1.6 million in inventory reduction.”
- Bill Ayres, Director of Supply Chain Solutions Operations

Health systems are constantly navigating changing priorities and shifting resources by nature of industry demands. “For our healthcare customers, time is an extraordinarily valuable resource,” said Ayres. “Having a trusted partner for complex processes like suture management isn’t only about cost savings. It gives customers peace of mind and allows staff to prioritize their time knowing suture management is taken care of.”

The pandemic represented a seismic shift across the healthcare industry, shining a spotlight on the importance of supply chain planning. For ORs, processes likely won’t return to pre-pandemic protocols, presenting a unique opportunity for ongoing improvement. Time and cost savings and waste reduction in the OR can have lasting impact across an entire health system—and there’s no better time to explore opportunities for efficiency.

PANDAC: Wound Closure Inventory Management

PANDAC is a comprehensive, on-site product inventory program that helps control purchases and eliminates excess inventory, all the while maintaining inventory levels. Schedule a free assessment today, and we’ll work with you to determine how much you can save with PANDAC. Fill out the form to the right to schedule an assessment.