Over Spring Break, Wharton Global Health Volunteers (WGHV) sent a project team to St. Jude Hospital, a 55-bed nonprofit that serves the south of St. Lucia from its temporary home in an athletic stadium. Because St. Jude Hospital serves many patients with free or government-subsidized medical care, its management team has encountered cash flow issues that threaten its projected 2015 move to a real 88-bed hospital facility.
Earlier in January, the WGHV Board met with the CEO, Dr. Chierry Poyotte, and Director of Finance and Budgeting, Mr. Beverly Robert, to confirm the hospital’s interest in inventory management. Dr. Poyotte complimented the 2013 WGHV team consisting of Alcira Rodriguez (WG’14), Brett Chung (WG’14), Dan Hung (WG’14), Carrie Shi (WG’14), Adrian Fang (WG’14), and the project leader, Pablo Cervera (WG’14). Dr. Poyotte also confirmed that Mr. Robert had helped to carry out some of the 2013 team’s recommendations. For 2014, he suggested that WGHV could assess and optimize inventory management processes; waste, medication expiration, and other inefficiencies were contributing to the hospital’s mounting losses.
The larger 2014 team of six HCM students (see picture) then conducted planning and analysis in February and March, while obtaining advice from the 2013 project team that had focused on separate issues around revenue collection, operational metrics, and organizational communication.
Upon arrival in St. Lucia, the team immediately tackled 26 stakeholder interviews and observed manual, paper-based processes in various wards throughout the hospital, including ER, OR, and surgical. After developing a current state assessment, the team designed a future state and implementation plan centered on four major solutions:
- Consistent inventory tracking and patient billing processes to improve inventory control and revenue
- Expiration monitoring systems of medications and lab reagents to enhance care delivery and reduce waste
- Standardized manual data collection across wards to improve procurement and care delivery processes
- Data-driven pricing of medications and supplies to increase cash flow and strengthen vendor relationships
Ultimately, WGHV team hosted a workshop with the entire St. Jude’s management team to agree on a list of “quick wins,” and to assign owners for other short- and medium-term initiatives. In response to the management team’s request, the WGHV team also developed standardized tracking forms, scoring systems, change management meeting agendas, sample communications, and training plans. The team dedicated itself both to actionable insights and tools that would lead to immediate and lasting change.
During the workshop, the management team was collaborative and receptive: “The insight you’ve delivered is real, and some of the issues identified are areas that had never occurred to us before. The timing of this project is fortuitous as St. Jude’s prepares to install materials management system software in summer 2014 and move out of our temporary stadium facility in 2015,” said St. Jude’s CEO, Dr. Poyotte.
Given the resounding success of WGHV project teams in 2013 and 2014, the management team at St. Jude hospital committed to a meaningful global health partnership with Wharton for years to come.