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Atrium (Advocate) Health Reduces ERP Implementation Time by 90% with Premier Technology

Key takeaways:

  • Consolidated, cleansed and actionable supply chain data is critical to reduce inefficiencies in searching for information and preventing potential overpayments.
  • Premier's item master cleanse process provided Atrium Health with a clean and standardized item master database to support its new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system implementation– and significantly reduced time spent on the project by 90 percent.
  • Atrium Health utilized the PINC AI™ Content Hub solution to quickly update and validate new products within their ERP – streamlining the item building process, helping to minimize delays in the operating room and enhancing patient safety.

Atrium Health, affiliated with Advocate Health, is an integrated nonprofit health system headquartered in Charlotte, NC serving patients at 40 hospitals and more than 1,400 care locations. In 2021, Atrium Health was set to transition to a new cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to unify their Materials Management Information System (MMIS) across the health system. With more than 70,000 teammates, a unified MMIS is essential for Atrium Health’s supply chain and purchasing activities. The MMIS helps maintain clean transaction data, keeps product lists current, manages vendor and contract information and aligns products with contract pricing.

Major health systems like Atrium Health can have up to 400,000 frequently used items within their item master, ranging from gloves and gowns to hospital beds and ventilators, and the parts needed to maintain them. On average, however, only a small percentage of these items are managed electronically within a centralized MMIS, leading to a lack of visibility into most items within a health system’s supply chain.

Without a single source of truth for this data, items and their corresponding supplier and contract information can’t be easily searched for or tracked. Department leaders may go to order supplies, only to find that their supplier has merged with another company. Purchasing departments may learn that the unique device identification (UDI) number has changed without knowing which new UDI has replaced it. Finance teams may have an incomplete picture of payment discrepancies throughout the supply chain. This results in wasted time spent searching for updated information, and potential overpayments on items when a contract price isn’t easily accessible.

In Atrium Health’s case, their migration to a new ERP system required matching attributes for all items within their supply chain environment. The ERP is designed to serve as the system of record for all financial data within an organization, including supply chain costs, and facilitates ordering supplies, so it was essential to input every item purchased throughout the health system into the ERP. Atrium Health’s situation was made more complex by the need to consolidate the MMIS from four different regions into one across the enterprise.

To successfully accomplish this MMIS consolidation ahead of their ERP migration, Atrium Health partnered with Premier to standardize its item master database. This collaboration entailed a complete overhaul to consolidate and clean the system’s supply chain data.

Optimizing Workflow Performance to Increase Efficiencies and Revenue

“Our team wouldn't be able to consolidate the data at the scale that was now required. It would take 10-30 minutes to look up the required attributes for just one item,” explained Atrium Health’s Assistant Vice President, Master Data Integrity and Procurement.

To migrate to the new ERP, the Premier team supported Atrium Health in uploading all purchasable items into the MMIS with matching key information and attributes. These attributes included information like manufacturer name, primary UDI, latex status, safety information and contract category.

The team started with a standardized three-step item master cleanse that reduced time spent on this project by 90 percent.

  • Analyze
    • The Premier team analyzes all the data to identify and remove duplicates and items with no usage. New products that support revenue growth are added into the item master.
  • Update and Enrich
    • The team works to standardize fields across the item master list, including descriptions, classifications, safety fields and more. Vendor and manufacturer information is updated and synchronized across all suppliers.
  • Deliver
    • Premier delivers clean data files, with dedicated resources available to answer questions or help with next steps.

In conjunction with this item master cleanse process, Atrium Health leveraged Premier’s Item Master, which consists of more than four million products from thousands of suppliers, to complete the data verification process. The Item Master is designed to serve as a repository for all sorts of supplies and is kept updated and standardized by Premier.

A Custom Interface Built to Accelerate Efficiencies

With input from Atrium Health, the Premier team also designed the PINC AI™ Content Hub, a new support product that can be used to quickly update new products and modifications to its item master and enable product purchases via the ERP.

The PINC AI™ Content Hub solution is designed to allow organizations to upload an item file from their item master, contracts or local files. The system then works behind-the-scenes to update the item with the latest product attributes, vendor and contract information, and regulatory information – converting key data points into the appropriate fields for easy file upload into the ERP. This process also validates each item against contract data to ensure item pricing matches supplier contract language. When an item is requested throughout the health system, the PINC AI™ Content Hub takes the guesswork out of the validation process, saving time and reducing overpayments.

“My team gets a request to build a new item in our ERP, and Content Hub has a very slick upload and download tool where we provide two very minor pieces of information per item,” Atrium’s Assistant Vice President explained. “I’ve uploaded thousands of items simultaneously, and in a short amount of time, Content Hub generates back all of the cleansed data. That gives us a description that meets our standards, which includes United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC) and Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). It’s the lifeblood of our day-to-day item building. I’ve told my team, ‘We don’t build an item unless we have exhausted all of Premier’s solutions to make sure we get clean data.’ It is truly a tool that solves an enterprise problem.”

Atrium Health is now using the self-service query in the PINC AI™ Content Hub daily to keep their system updated after their initial implementation.

“I’ve really appreciated Premier’s willingness to work with us and to allow us behind the curtain in the development process. They listened to our feedback and were really nimble,” said Atrium.

Minimizing Delays in the Operating Room

One of the initial successes Atrium Health experienced using the PINC AI™ Content Hub relates to latex status attributions for items used in the operating room (OR). Patients with latex allergies can have dangerous reactions if they are exposed to latex during a procedure. The latex-free status attribution within Atrium Health’s electronic medical record (EMR) system has three options: “Y” indicates an item is latex free, “N” indicates the item contains latex and “U” indicates that the latex status is undetermined. This attribution is based on the manufacturer-provided specifications, but not every item has this information available from the manufacturer.

When a patient with a latex allergy is being prepared for surgery in the OR, Atrium Health’s EMR checks the items that are selected for the procedure against the MMIS to determine the latex status. Items indicated with “N” or “U” set off an alarm in the EMR to alert staff that latex is present, or that the status is undetermined. Previously, when faced with an undetermined item, staff would need to stop to investigate and decide on next steps to ensure patient safety.

Over time, the nursing staff at Atrium Health’s Floyd location noticed an overabundance of alerts for undetermined items. To remedy this, they identified 6,000 frequently flagged items and worked with Premier to cleanse this data. Premier worked with manufacturers and subject matter experts for each item to find and update the latex attribution within the system. Ultimately, over 27,000 items with undetermined latex status were found and updated throughout Atrium Health’s supply chain.

Cleaned, accurate and actionable data is key to systemwide performance improvement and strong patient outcomes – and Atrium Health is reaping the benefits.

For more:

  • Are you interested in a similar solution for your healthcare organization's ERP system? Connect with PINC AI™ today to optimize your organization’s financial performance and increase efficiencies and revenue for long-term success.

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