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National Leaders Collaborate on COVID-19 Lessons for Healthcare Value Analysis Teams

ECRI and the Association of Healthcare Value Analysis Professionals (AHVAP) issue new risk mitigation strategies

ECRI, the nation’s leading independent patient safety organization, and the Association for Healthcare Value Analysis Professionals (AHVAP) have partnered on a report that outlines key supply chain lessons and important risk mitigation strategies learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Their new white paper, Evolution of Risk Mitigation in Value Analysis during the COVID-19 Pandemic, is part of a collaboration aimed at advancing value analysis best practices.

The pandemic exposed vulnerabilities on many levels in healthcare supply chain, particularly those associated with ensuring adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). Disruptions to the supply chain forced providers to pivot to non-traditional suppliers. New technologies were introduced rapidly without definitive safety and efficacy evidence.

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“While a devastating experience, the COVID-19 pandemic offers critical lessons for supply chain and value analysis professionals,” says Andrew Furman, MD, MMM, FACEP, Executive Director, Clinical Excellence at ECRI. “Among them is the critical role that physicians play in the value analysis process, especially in assessing clinical evidence, to ensure patient safety and outcomes.”

The joint white paper outlines important COVID-19 lessons that will help healthcare value analysis and supply chains think differently to prepare and mitigate future risks.

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Recognize opportunities for improvement. Donated supplies, product discontinuations, and disruptions with traditional suppliers created vulnerabilities during the pandemic. ECRI and AHVAP recommend that healthcare organizations, manufacturers, suppliers, Group Purchasing Organizations, and distributors work closely together to ensure that the right supplies are available to meet patient needs. Rapid changes require staff education to avoid potential safety errors.

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Improve processes by evaluating vulnerabilities. The disruption to longstanding relationships between providers and traditional suppliers forced providers to source from nontraditional suppliers. Providers quickly learned that nontraditional suppliers, especially international suppliers, needed thorough, rapid, and repeated vetting. ECRI, AHVAP, and the Association for Health Care Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM) established a list of prequalifying questions for selecting non-traditional suppliers. Among their recommendations are tracking country of origin, reevaluating inventory models, and re-evaluating partnerships and collaborations.

Access clinical evidence on emerging technologies and therapies. Involve physicians in the decision-making process to achieve positive patient and health system outcomes, and prevent diversion of critical resources when supplies, finances, and staff are strained. ECRI and AHVAP advise pulling in physicians and c-suite leadership, especially when selecting new technology.

“Through closer integration, physician engagement, and a stronger reliance on evidence-based strategies, we see many new opportunities to reduce risk, cut costs, and improve care for all patients,” says AHVAP President, Susan Toomey, BSHA, CVAHP, CMRP, Sr. Value Analysis Coordinator, Lehigh Valley Health Network.

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