GenY to the Xpower

Dilemma faced as patient versus employee by Valerie Hoven

Transparency is all the rage right now in our internal communications department. Go figure the finance department is the slowest to change with us. In meeting with them, I asked what areas are costing the hospital too much money and if there is a way to communicate that to employees so they can start watching their spending. One fun fact that finance was willing to share is the price of facial tissue. Departments spend thousands of dollars on select “plus lotion” facial tissues rather than the hospital’s preferred generic brand. Bring your own tissue to work, you Kleenex-snobs! Those $3 boxes add up, and we need that money for patient care!

But the disturbing part for me was the giant piece of the pie called “supplies.” Sure, hospitals buy a lot of supplies, but the finance geeks said that some departments insist on buying more expensive equipment (the industry of course as an acronym for it “PPI,” or physician preferred items). “Like what?” I asked? “Do surgeons demand Nike-brand-like scalpels or something?”

No, it wasn’t a brand issue. Go figure that doctors like nicer knee replacements for patients. Well, so do the patients! Another example was that nurses like skinnier IV needles. They are easier to use, but hundreds of thousands of dollars more expensive. As a patient, I say give the nurses the easiest needles to insert around!

Is there another answer? Can we train nurses on how to use the cheaper, thicker, IV needles? That costs money, too, and it’s not that pleasant for the patients to get stuck with a bigger needle, especially more than once. How many blown veins does it take for insurance companies to bite the bullet and splurge on the easy-to-use needles?

Luckily, we use a lot of 5S and other lean methods to control inventory, which saves the hospital tons of money every year. We just need to see who will step it up next to control inventory costs. Should we have PPI standards? Will insurance reimburse us fully for better, but more expensive, supplies? Should nurses have more training? Can us patients learn to just deal with it? The debate continues…