Having visited over 250 hospitals in his nearly 8 years as a member of the Terso Field Service team, Jake Fetting is no stranger to inventory management issues. In fact, he and his team, “get up close and personal with these problems.” We’ve taken this opportunity to dive into Jake’s breadth of knowledge and experience to provide a glimpse into what our field service engineers (FSEs) accomplish on the road.
Does being on-site typically last one day or can it extend depending on the project?
A: It can depend on the project length. If it’s about five of our devices or less, we can typically get that done in a day and a half. Anything more? We usually take the full week, if not more, depending on the size of the project. Site surveys typically take about four hours at max and those also are dependent on the size of the project. I just did a site survey recently, in Texas, which lasted three days with nine different locations.
The great thing about site surveys is that they can also help our customers and our internal teams recognize when a broader project is required than initially thought. Customer may not have the full in-depth knowledge of RFID and the solutions we provide, but once we have those conversations while we’re on site viewing various areas, it opens their eyes and they realize we can clone a configuration of devices from one department with another that is experiencing similar, if not the same, issues.
What do inventory spaces look like prior to RFID integration?
A: Spaces before RFID implementation are very chaotic, disorganized, and in disarray. I’ll even use the word archaic. There are binders of paper and it’s often very manual and tedious. If there are systems in place it’s likely they were established 30 or 40 years ago, and they just haven’t adopted anything else despite the issues that are still present.
Change is difficult for anyone, but especially when so many people and moving pieces are involved. However, if there’s a technology and level of automation available that can solve essentially every issue these individuals are experiencing- then a short period of disruption is worth itand we’ve seen all of this firsthand.
You can be sure that no matter the inventory challenges a customer is facing, there are always two negative outcomes as a result of tracking inventory manually- time and cost.
Do these hospitals seem to be facing similar inventory challenges or do you see unique challenges for each location?
A: Specifically, when it comes to healthcare, the issues experienced seem to stem from the same culprits. It’s not having an accurate way to keep track of inventory. For instance, you have nurses coming in at all hours of the day pulling products from various locations and sometimes these items don’t get utilized in surgery cases and they may not make their way back to the location they were pulled from, which results in discrepancies in on-hand inventory counts. These discrepancies are then typically recognized at quarterly reviews of their on-hand inventory, and if items can’t be located at this time they have to write it off on the books. And that creates a big red flag that obviously any board director will pay attention to.
With those similar challenges for healthcare facilities, what are some other challenges that you see for other industry types that seem to be consistent?
A: Within the supply chain, no matter the industry, I think there’s still a big problem with visibility into the movement of products- wanting to know what stage the product is at, whether it’s coming from manufacturing, being sterilized, it’s sitting in a warehouse available to be shipped, and finally when it’s landed at the customer’s location. Those are all things that I see in the supply chain in addition to the potential temperature control regulations that come into play.
Workflows and requirements like these, however, give us the opportunity to showcase the range of our devices as well as the level of customization and support we’re willing to provide.
As someone who has worked directly with the end user, what is some of the best feedback you’ve received post-implementation?
A: I love when the customer ends up going to the inventory management portal and they can see in real time everything they have on hand. There are even those moments where the system will highlight expiring products they did not know were close to expiration. When I teach the customers how to interact with the devices and they realize just how easy and painless it is, it’s like a breath of fresh air to them, because typically the former process was very time consuming. The newly implemented system is really allowing them the time to get back to the patients, to direct patient care, that really matters in their positions.
Could you speak to the relationships that you’ve built with our partners and how important it is that you your understand their needs, in addition to the needs of end users?
A: I pride myself on the awesome relationships that we have because you can’t tell the Terso team apart from our partners. We all understand the strength of our relationship, and that at the end of the day our ultimate goal is to have a happy customer. You’re taking Terso technologies and integrating with our partners who have these amazing, robust software systems. They’re so complementary of each other and truly brings everything full circle. We’re working alongside each other, and in that way, we’ve essentially created a one-stop shop.
Do you find yourself being able to then bridge gaps for both Terso and our partners?
A: We’re unique in that while Terso doesn’t sell directly to hospitals, we still work directly with hospitals during implementation and support services. I feel like we do really get a unique perspective and can provide valuable insights to cross-functional teams.
We pick up on a lot of familiarities at sites and things that are similar in the workflow processes. We bring that information back to our partners and then they enhance the capabilities of their software. Sometimes the customer doesn’t even notice that there was an issue to begin with because we’ve already solved it from our preliminary on-site assessments. So, by the time we hit the installation or implementation, customers are never aware of a problem because it’s already been taken care of.
That ongoing search for growth and improvement allows us to bridge gaps that we have between the companies; it allows us to come out with solutions that are much quicker.
We keep each other in the know because we want to be able to solve and combat these issues that should no longer be issues… and that’s the beauty of these partnerships.