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Improve the Sterile Processing Department Workflow By Going Digital

by Barbora Ilic
Sterile processing instruments

Shifts in the Sterile Processing Department (SPD) industry are happening fast. From having to work with leaner teams due to staffing shortages, or dealing with rapid ASC expansions across the US, there is an enormous amount of pressure on these teams to work as efficiently as possible. Yet, the number one goal of this department is also to limit risk, which can be difficult when trying to do more with less. That’s where technology comes into play.

Over the last several years, SPDs have been going digital for a variety of reasons, but mainly, to adapt to all of the changes previously mentioned. They must ensure that they are working efficiently AND effectively in their workflows. 

Surglogs has created a platform that helps digitize the SPD workflow and help teams work at peak caliber. This solution helps teams log, track, and process all SPD records, all while clearing space for the team to perform at optimal levels. 

Logging Sterile Processing Records

The first step to improving SPD workflows through digitization is, well, making them digital. Before these departments can reap the benefits of technology, implementation is key. This will require the department to move everything from paper to digital format. While this may seem tedious at first, consider the amount of hours the department will save, and the headaches they will avoid, once the new process is in place. 

First, gather a list of all the checklists and logs you typically collect, from Steam Sterilization to Hand hygiene monitoring, make a list of everything you’ll need to transfer over and start a pile of these paper templates. From there, simply send them all to the Surlogs team and they will be digitized on your behalf. This is all part of the package, with no extra charges. 

Tracking Sterile Processing Records

Once all of your logs are digitized, they become easily traceable. Search based on any parameter, such as date, instrument type, cycle type, or load number. Important tasks, such as finding the location of a missing instrument, are made easier when you can narrow down the timeframe of when the instrument was last used and where.

Full-text search also allows all SPR Techs and managers to go back in time and search sterilization loads with certain supplies or based on a date within seconds.

This comes in particularly handy during something like a surgical infection investigation. Being able to go back to old records to review the workflow for that surgery will be vital for thorough investigations, and will not slow your team down with excess research. Simply type in the date and instrument you’re looking for, and see all the history in one step. 

Improving SPD Workflow Handover

Once all your logs and workflows are digitized, you will find that another great time-saver is the ease with which you can hand over steps in the SPD process. The system works as a repository of information for all technicians. With digital records and logs, everyone speaks the same language and marches to the same drumline.

Let’s say, for example, you’re in the middle of running biological indicators to help ensure that a piece of machinery is operating correctly, and once that step is complete, your shift ends and a new technician needs to step in. Without any extra effort from you, they can see what has already been done, run additional checks, if that’s part of the workflow, or move on to the next step seamlessly. When these processes are digitized, this eases internal department communication and improves speed significantly. Something any team suffering from staff shortages will surely benefit from. 

Clearing Space for SPDs

Marie Kondo once made us all believe in the power of keeping tidy. She explained that your life will become easier, if everything you need is out of the way, yet easy to find when you need it. And the same principle applies to your SPD. If you can’t find what you need under numerous binders, or you need to sift through those binders only to accidentally miss what you need over and over again, the stress can be insurmountable. By clearing the physical space around us, we clear our headspace as well. 

Imagine a facility without binders, and search processes that would always warrant a result. This can be done easily when all logs, records, documents, and receipts are stored in the cloud. 

Records used during the SPD workflow often have to be stored for 7-10 years. A piece of paper can easily get damaged, faded, or lost during that time frame. But as digital records, these documents will never be damaged, always be attached to a specific date, and easily found in moments of need. 

Unlike Marie Kondo’s tidiness commitments, all of these scenarios are possible with the right digital systems in place. They can all become a reality for your Sterile Processing Department when you introduce Tracking to your daily routine.

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