December 17, 2009 11:03 ET

VHA Regional Network Helps Missouri and Kansas Hospitals Save $369,000 on Infection Control Products and Reduce Infection Rates

IRVING, TX--(Marketwire - December 17, 2009) - Unintended outcomes are great when they're positive. For 12 hospitals in southwestern Missouri and southeastern Kansas, a supply chain improvement project wound up helping them not only reduce their spend on clinical products, but also improve their infection control efforts. The hospitals are all participants of the Greater Ozarks Sourcing Collaborative, a regional purchasing network formed through VHA Inc., the national health care network.

Through VHA, the materials managers from each organization gather regularly to discuss product standardization and ways to obtain lower prices through smarter contracting. One of the many projects the group launched related to infection control products. As the team evaluated these products, they engaged nurses and infection control professionals to validate the value of their recommended product changes and measure the potential impact on quality of care. However, this consultation process started to slow down the product conversion process and they formed an infection prevention sub-group to work simultaneously with the operations team. The synergy of the two groups' efforts created a "fast track" methodology that accelerated product conversion rates and created a platform for discussing how the hospitals would make better use of infection control products.


Through VHA, since January of 2008, the Kansas and Missouri hospitals have collaborated to review and standardize around 16 infection control products, resulting in total savings of more than $369,000. More importantly, the participating organizations have seen the following clinical improvements:

Freeman Health System, Joplin, Mo.

Pneumonias dropped from 13.15% per 1,000 vent days in September 2008 to 0% in April 2009. Bloodstream infections tumbled from 3.25% per 1,000 line days in December 2008 to 0% in April 2009.

Ann Davy, infection prevention officer at Freeman Health System, said, "The VHA network provides a forum to get infection control professionals together to look at products that all of us may not know about and to ultimately decide what's best for the patients."

McCune-Brooks Regional Hospital, Carthage, Mo.

Surgical infection rates decreased in 2008 from 4.5 infections per 100 surgeries to one infection per 100 surgeries. The rate continued to decrease in 2009, down to .5 infections per 100 surgeries during the first six months of the year.

"Our guiding principle was to recommend products that drove best practice in infection prevention," explains Teri Koch, director of infection control/employee health/education at McCune-Brooks Regional Hospital. "With payers and regulators withholding reimbursement for certain types of hospital-acquired infections, our work was viewed as essential, and the fact that we were collaborating with other hospitals to identify best practices validated the decisions we made across all the hospitals."

CoxHealth, Springfield, Mo.

Ventilator-associated pneumonia rates have fallen with the introduction of new oral care products.

"Our goal was not only to drive savings for the organization, but also to make sure clinical issues, especially as they related to infection prevention, were addressed," says Susan Soetart, director, infection prevention at CoxHealth.

About VHA

VHA Inc., based in Irving, Texas, is a national network of not-for-profit health care organizations that work together to drive maximum savings in the supply chain arena, set new levels of clinical performance, and identify and implement best practices to improve operational efficiency and clinical outcomes. Formed in 1977, VHA serves more than 1,400 hospitals and more than 23,000 non-acute care providers nationwide.


The hospitals in the Greater Ozarks Sourcing Collaborative include:

--  Barton County Memorial Hospital
--  CoxHealth
      --  Cox-Monett Hospital, Monett, Mo.
      --  Cox North, Springfield, Mo.
      --  Cox South, Springfield, Mo.
      --  Cox Walnut Lawn, Springfield, Mo.
--  Freeman Health System
      --  Freeman East Campus, Joplin, Mo.
      --  Freeman Neosho Hospital, Neosho, Mo.
      --  Freeman West Campus, Joplin, Mo.
--  Labette Health, Parsons, Kan.
--  McCune-Brooks Regional Hospital, Carthage, Mo.
--  Riverside Management and Rehabilitation, Bolivar, Mo.
--  Skaggs Regional Medical Center, Branson, Mo.

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