A Look at Storage Trends in Healthcare

By Stuffey | January 11, 2019

Kristin Ormand has been with Patterson Pope for many years. She’s held various posts during her tenure, including more than a decade in sales. While she’s worked with customers in a number of industries, she has an affinity for those in healthcare. Details are her thing.

We took a few minutes to sit down with Kristin and asked her to share some of her insights – and excitement – about the storage trends and possibilities for today’s hospitals, clinics and pharmacies.

Q: What special challenges does healthcare present?
A: Every facility has a different way of doing things, and different things are important to each one of them. Of course, there are certain industry-wide standards that need to be adhered to, like OSHA or JACO or DHEC in SC. When we do a pharmacy, for instance, there are numerous codes and USP 797 standards (for compounding) about how “clean rooms” are supposed to work. And because these standards change – they’ve changed three or four times in the last 12 years or so – you’re going to have to periodically make some construction changes, particularly as they relate to HVAC systems.

Q: Given your experience working with a lot of different industries, what’s unique about healthcare’s needs?

A: That’s easy. The storage solutions we help implement can, in an indirect way, affect patient health. It’s the only industry where, on occasion, people’s lives are at stake. Take sterile processing departments as just one example. If an instrument tray – which can have upwards of 40-some loose pieces in it – isn’t properly filled, there could be a mad scramble to find this one instrument to do this one thing for this one patient. It can affect someone’s life in an operating room (OR). And while that’s not going to happen every day, it is a realistic possibility.

Q: Can you give an example of the varying standards?

A: In the VA’s OR, the cabinets are stainless steel no matter what. But in other hospitals, the standards in an OR might be powder-coated steel with a solid surface top – or it might be laminate all edges fully sealed or a stainless steel top. That’s why it’s so important to sit down with the end-user and just ask them, “Okay, what are the standards here at your hospital?”

There are parameters that you have to meet. So when we’re sitting down and thinking about what we want to do, we’re able to handpick the best solution for any given particular function.

Vertical Carousels for Sterile Storage
A: From a storage perspective, it’s definitely trending more toward a “Just-in-Time” philosophy for materials. Many of our larger customers have contracts with medical equipment providers that provide materials on a daily basis. That’s going to continue, thanks in large part to better data generation and analysis. Facilities are only getting better at determining what they’re going to need when they’re going to need it.

Q: Hasn’t efficiency always been important?
A: Important? Yes. Enacted? No. Based on both my experience and conversations I’ve had, it’s clear that, from a storage perspective, more departments should work like a factory. You should avoid sitting on stuff that is not utilized frequently. However, when talking to someone in sterile processing, they may say, “Well, we just have to have this in case of ‘x’.” In healthcare, facilities would be well served to work with someone who can help them understand not only what they’re going to need but how the process should work… a “factory guy,” so to speak. And that factory guy ought to be able to override the clinical guy when it comes to improving workflow. If you design them correctly and efficiently, you can actually make everything within move faster and run smoother. Hospitals and other medical facilities are continually looking and changing their efficiencies.

Q: What are some things that people in this industry should be thinking about as they begin a project?
A: Look at things less from a clinical perspective and more from a workflow perspective. If you get the workflow correct, the clinical will follow. You really have to examine how you’re going to go from step one to step two to step three. Taking a holistic look at your processes can help make the decision making process in terms of storage solutions that much easier. Just because the space or “this is the way we have always done it” has determined the process, taking a step back and re-engineering the process without those prejudice can be eye openings. There’s always a better solution that will let you store more in less space, access needed items quickly and support the process better.

Q: Are there certain products that uniquely solve problems in the healthcare industry?
A: I love the Rotomat, from Hanel. Because it’s vertical, it’s a great way to take advantage of limited space. But I especially love it because of how it really helps that “data” item I mentioned. If customers use the software that comes with it, you get so much great, usable information. They know who’s pulling an item and who’s putting it back. They know how quickly they can get it. They know how many times a week, month or year they pull it. They have an accurate way to assess what they need more of and what they need less of. All these things can be answered thanks to the data. The department learns how they can store more efficiently, but they also have to manage the data. And also use the data to improve their process. We still rely on someone to review the data and police it- that has been the hardest thing to get end users to embrace.

Q: How have the healthcare industry’s needs changed over the years?

A: Medical facilities of all kinds are slowly getting task forces to look at their processes and determine how they might be able to better do things. I think there is an opportunity for Patterson Pope to come in and work together with them to improve efficiencies in a lot of departments. We can make them safe and lean.

Q: Is there a “most asked question” in healthcare?
A: Clients are always most interested in finding out how they can solve their issue. It’s actually me who usually asks the first question, which is typically “Can I see what you’re doing now?” Once I see it and get a better understanding of how they’re using what they have and what they’re thinking about doing moving forward, we can begin a really fruitful conversation.

Q: What are the biggest “stuff” problems in healthcare?

A: Poor organization. Or the whole “we do it this way because it’s the way we’ve always done it” approach. From my perspective, sometimes it’s a matter of me determining whether I’m dealing with somebody who’s committed enough to make the decisions I know they need to make. This is a process, and it’s really fun. I’m always out there trying to build new relationships. Hopefully, I’m laying the groundwork for future success.

Q: Do you have any general observations about the state of storage in healthcare?

A: What I would like healthcare professionals to understand is that no solution is the same. Every department needs to be looked at differently. There are a lot of things you can buy out of a catalog. That’s fine, but doing it that way, do you really think you’re getting the final solution that you need? I’m not there to sell you something; I’m there to provide you with the service and provide a wholesale solution.
The reality is that not everyone is going to need us. But when you need us, you really need us. Patterson Pope might not be a fit for every project, but in those projects where we are a fit, we can do really profound things.


About Stuffey

To say that Stuffey was made for this role would be an understatement. A life long hoarder, Stuffey understands how the Laws of Stuff can wreak havoc in the real world of an organization’s space. Now as part of his reformation, he is committed to passing on to you his secrets in our battle against the tyranny of STUFF.

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