Inventory Management Upgrade: How One EP Lab Transitioned to WaveMark CIMS

Michael Collette, RN, Resource Nurse EP Lab, UMass Memorial Medical Center, and Daniel W. Johnson, RN, Director of Surgical Services, WaveMark Inc.
Michael Collette, RN, Resource Nurse EP Lab, UMass Memorial Medical Center, and Daniel W. Johnson, RN, Director of Surgical Services, WaveMark Inc.
UMass Memorial Medical Center, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, has two electrophysiology (EP) labs. They perform approximately 1,300 EP procedures annually and maintain an inventory value of approximately $1 million at any given time. With cardiac rhythm devices ranging from $5,000-$35,000 each, and catheters costing a few thousand dollars each, UMass wanted a streamlined solution for managing this costly inventory. Specifically, our staff at UMass was looking to decrease the volume of items being stored in the labs and storerooms, while also differentiating between OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) products and reprocessed items. Setting target inventory levels, or par levels, is the single most important task to conquer in any clinical department if you want to manage your inventory properly. Most of the time reordering is done according to what was used use one, replace one. We were determined to find a solution that would provide better management of inventory levels by analyzing usage to make target inventory recommendations, while also automating the requisition process. WaveMark CIMS, from WaveMark, Inc. was recently installed in the two EP labs after a highly successful implementation in our five-room Cardiac Cath lab. The new RFID (radio frequency identification) system has immediately put minds at ease. Our EP technician and inventory manager is especially pleased with the implementation she can now leave at the end of the day knowing that her requisitions have been accurately placed. WaveMark CIMS uses RFID technology to provide real-time visibility of all tagged items in an EP lab, operating room, or procedure room. Upon installation, WaveMark CIMS automatically sets par levels according to what is actually on the shelf. This serves as the baseline for the department s inventory level and is used to evaluate ROI success of the new solution. How it Works WaveMark CIMS is a web-based solution providing real-time visibility of inventory. To collect and make this information available, WaveMark installs RFID-enabled cabinets in the hospital to store and track products. Each product box is tagged with an RFID tag that serves as a license plate to that individual product, capturing its lot and serial number, as well as expiration date. The intelligent cabinets have built-in RFID antennas that read tagged items on the shelves every 18 minutes and feed the data to the WaveMark server. This provides a full physical count of products in those cabinets with no manual effort and 99.999% accuracy. When products are used in a procedure, they are waved in front of a Point-of-Service (POS) reader that confirms usage and simultaneously feeds into our EP lab s clinical documentation system. With this level of automation, our staff no longer needs to barcode or use pull-down menus to capture usage of these items, saving clinical resource time. By waving tagged items in front of the POS readers in the labs or control areas, WaveMark CIMS automatically decrements the item from inventory without any manual entry or barcode scan. The application then sends the information into the open encounter in the clinical documentation system chosen by the hospital. If the item is not used, it is put back on the shelf and read automatically back into inventory. WaveMark CIMS does not replace the hospital s legacy systems, yet it augments it by feeding accurate, real-time information. In addition, EP in particular has many long, thin items that cannot fit into the traditional five-shelf RFID cabinet. To accurately track all products in the lab, WaveMark provided special RFID bins that hold the long, standing boxes used for diagnostic and ablation cases. Items in the bins are now more visible, and our staff can remove items with ease. These items can be stored in their boxes or can be taken out depending on the preference of the customer. Immediate Returns The staff in our EP lab is relieved to have a solution that automates some of the workload while at the same time allowing us peace of mind that we will always have what we need for a case. Inventory levels were re-assessed after one month, based on utilization data provided by WaveMark CIMS. In particular, WaveMark CIMS identified a reduction in inventory of selected high-volume, high-cost items by 38% in the first month. An additional 3% reduction was recognized the following month. This significant reduction is not only a one-time hit, but will be sustainable over time since the system uses the lower target inventory levels and on-hand counts to create requisitions. As part of inventory visibility, WaveMark CIMS can also easily identify missing items, so the number of lost or missing items has decreased dramatically. Our inventory manager simply logs into WaveMark CIMS via Internet Explorer and can see the time and location of an item that was taken from a WaveMark CIMS shelf, whether the case was at midnight or 3 in the afternoon. This approach to inventory management has decreased the amount of time spent on hunting down missing items and made requisitioning guess free. In addition, UMass uses a reprocessing company for diagnostic EP catheters. Before WaveMark CIMS, it was difficult to determine what was on hand from the reprocessing company and what was on the shelf from the OEM. While our staff was able to manage OEM products according to set par levels, it was almost impossible to keep track of what was coming back from the reprocessing company. Prior to WaveMark CIMS, UMass would submit an order to the original manufacturer for an ablation catheter, and at the same time receive an order from their reprocessing company for the same item. This cycle would put some items well over par every month. Using WaveMark CIMS, our EP lab has been able to separate the two types of product while keeping them under the same target inventory. With all products now tagged and tracked by the cabinets and bins, we can better manage the inventory coming from the reprocessing company, reducing the more expensive items from the manufacturer, which is sometimes three times the price of reprocessed. Bulk buying is also a common practice in most EP labs, including ours. The Bulk Buy Calculator feature in WaveMark CIMS shows us exactly what was used over a period of time, and creates a shopping list of targeted products based on those usage patterns. We will no longer need to rely on manufacturers input for order quantities, thus ensuring that the items ordered will be used. Summary Now that UMass has access to accurate information, our EP lab has been able to more efficiently manage our inventory, which will help us increase benefits in the form of financial as well as productivity gains. Utilizing WaveMark CIMS has provided us with access to information that was previously not readily available. WaveMark CIMS is offered on a subscription basis and does not require a capital purchase. As part of the solution, WaveMark provides all hardware, tags, training and support. Our install of seven cabinets and two POS readers happened overnight with no disruption to our lab s busy schedule. As a hosted web solution, WaveMark CIMS does not need to be installed on hospital servers, requiring only a data jack, an AC power outlet, and a static IP address for each cabinet. WaveMark CIMS is also currently in use in the Interventional Radiology and Special Procedure labs at UMass. For information on WaveMark, please visit their website at: www.wavemark.net