Improved Supply Chain in Canadian Health System Can Save Lives

Preventable medical error is 3rd leading cause of death in North America

WINDSOR, ON, Oct. 3, 2016 /CNW/ - A ground breaking study released today by the World Health Innovation Network has found that supply chain processes, based on global standards, can save lives. Adoption of these processes by Canadian hospitals and health organizations will significantly reduce injuries and deaths caused by preventable medical error, the 3rd leading cause of death in North America. These errors include medication error, surgery on the wrong patient, allergic responses, missed diagnoses, or use of the wrong product which causes harm, among others.

"The quality of healthcare is not only influenced by the world class expertise of our Canadian doctors, nurses and equipment," explains Dr. Anne Snowdon, RN, Strategy Professor at the University of Windsor's Odette School of Business, "By providing the right tools in clinical settings to help alert doctors, nurses and pharmacists to ensure the safest patient care and the use of the right medical products, in the right location at the right time. Clinicians' access to supply chain processes can prevent a medication error reducing adverse events, very poor outcomes or even death."

The Report, Visibility: The New Value Proposition for Healthcare Systems, was produced after two years of research. It includes in-depth interviews with over 50 experts, a detailed review of hospital and government records, and evidence from prior Canadian and international research. The 76 page report recommends that senior hospital administrators and government policy makers adopt supply chain systems, based on GS1 global standards long used by industry, to eliminate preventable medical errors.

"Dr. Snowdon correctly recognizes the importance of robust supply chain practices that can offer complete traceability of a medication from the manufacturer right to patient health outcomes. In McKesson Canada's pharmaceutical distribution business, we have meticulous inventory control based on GS1 barcodes, and we work with manufacturers to track products through all of our systems," explains George Attar, Senior Vice President, Chief Technology and Information Officer. "But once that medication arrives at a typical Canadian hospital or health organization this capacity is lost, although solutions are available to track the medication to the patient. These recommendations will significantly improve safety and efficiency in the health care system in Canada".

The Report notes that if hospitals and health organizations, in cooperation with Health Canada and the provincial and territorial Ministries of Health, institute strategic supply chain practices based on GS1 global standards, medication could be scanned upon receipt by the hospital, tracked across movement to a department and then recorded when used for a specific patient. This system can drastically reduce medical errors and waste. "These improved supply chain processes will provide clinicians with the necessary tools to prevent adverse events, and create safer clinical environments for patients." says Dr. Robin Walker, Integrated Vice President of Medical Affairs and Medical Education for London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Health Care.

"There will be a cost to implementing the change but experience in other jurisdictions indicate substantial cost savings can be achieved for every dollar invested by improving purchasing, inventory control, and by linking products to patient outcomes using supply chain tools and processes," explains Dr. Snowdon.

The World Health Innovation Network (WIN) is dedicated to optimizing healthcare delivery through research, knowledge transfer and the application of strategic business initiatives. It was launched in 2015 by the University of Windsor's Odette School of Business.

SOURCE World Health Innovation Network

For further information: please contact Lori Turik, Executive Director at WIN, at lori.turik@uwindsor.ca or Cell: (416) 407-5262.

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