Our Perspective: Physician Preference Cards

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Preference Card Challenges

Many perioperative departments are challenged with finding efficient ways to manage and maintain Physician Preference Cards (PPCs).  Providers, operational leaders, and supply chain teams struggle with pulling actionable data to guide meaningful decision making due to multiple systems, lack of integration, inconsistent data, and limited data governance. As a Clinical Leader, you’ve likely had one of these thoughts:

  • We need a process for determining which items / supplies need to be opened in advance of surgery versus which ones need to be readily available.
  • Our data systems aren’t integrated, so how do we reconcile clinical, operational, and financial data?
  • How do we engage our providers and objectively fix our preference cards based on metrics like usage rates?
  • We need meaningful data and tools to make informed decisions about what should or should not be included on our preference cards.

Benefits to Card Accuracy

PPCs afford providers the opportunity to approach cases with the materials and instruments they feel are most appropriate for the procedure at hand. Unfortunately, systems can quickly become saturated with outdated information, duplicates, and contradictory information. Health systems should focus on streamlining and maintaining accurate preference cards because of the operation and financial impacts.

Operational Impacts

  • Increases staff productivity by decreasing time spent in looking for missing supplies
  • Improves efficiency in case preparation by streamlining supplies needed
  • Enhances throughput by decreasing case delays
  • Establishes accurate management of open, unused, and unneeded items
  • Increases efficiencies from consolidation / materials standardization

Financial Impacts

  • Reduces wasted expenses from unused and contaminated supplies
  • Enhances opportunities for value analysis and contract negotiations
  • Reduces supply costs from consolidated preference or procedure cards
  • Increases charge capture and billing process accuracy

Financial Implications

Inaccurate and outdated preference cards can contribute negatively to a health system’s bottom line. Every year, hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted supplies and labor jeopardize already thin contribution margins. Hilsmier can help you develop targeted solutions and an integrated approach, to reduce costs and improve your bottom line.

Savings Estimate

PPCs can identify and eliminate materials waste across the whole system. Some systems have seen a cost avoidance of up to 15% per case on all “preference cards items” across all facilities. In addition, health systems have been able to significantly reduce the amount of transaction time and handling time required per case.

Investment Considerations

Although savings on preference card items can be achieved and documented, it should be noted that overall net cost per case may still increase (e.g. newer technologies such as robotics or increased utilization of advanced energy devices may contribute to higher costs). PPC clean up can help bend the curve on overall trending rates of increase.

Our Solution

Our team will review current preference card structure, policies and procedures, and information systems/interfaces to determine necessary changes and develop an implementation plan. Our solutions concentrate on reducing clinical and operational expenses, and optimizing resources in order to provide high quality care and improve patient throughput within the OR.

Our objectives are to:

  • Understand current cost savings strategies and technological support in order to identify and prioritize opportunities for standardizing PPCs.
  • Support clients with a decision-making framework for future investments and infrastructure needed to support changes to the preference card process.
  • Provide physicians and clinicians with actionable data and interventions to reduce clinical variability and improve patient outcomes.
  • Establish an accountable multidisciplinary governance structure to provide oversight, enforce decisions, and to assign proper supporting tools and resources.

Typical Project Phases

Our solution to preference card clean up and maintenance can be customized to fit your specific needs. For optimal results, we recommend moving through the following phases, however each phase can be performed individually if desired.

  • Preliminary Assessment
  • Phase 1: PPC Cleanse and Process Changes
  • Phase 2: Systems Integration and Templates
  • Phase 3: Supply Chain and Charge Capture Mapping and Benefit Realization
  • Phase 4: Monitor and Manage

Working with Hilsmier

Hilsmier leadership has decades of experience working at Big Four consulting firms and a wide range of healthcare organizations. Our point of view is based on our work with many perioperative departments and leaders, however we recognize that every client has their own unique challenges and nuances.  We welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your specific needs.


Our Perspective and Typical Approach: Physician Preference Cards

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