Methodist Healthcare Outsources Printing to Improve Savings and Service | Article

hospital outsourcingMethodist Healthcare, the largest provider of health care in San Antonio and South Texas, is in the business of healing the sick.

According to Geoffrey Crabtree, senior vice president for Methodist Healthcare, the federal government, payers, and regulatory bodies at the state level have requirements that require a variety of forms that they often need to change. What’s more, says Crabtree, “Printing operations is not our core competency. Taking care of patients at the bedside is our focus. When we’re dealing with patients having tiny babies, open-heart surgery, and liver transplants, we can’t be worried about printing all the forms and handbooks needed to accommodate patient care.”

Before outsourcing, the medical center sent printing off site to local vendors and national medical forms companies. That meant it relinquished control over inventory, quality, graphic standards, and print speed. To regain that control, Methodist Healthcare decided to outsource its printing function to Xerox Corporation, which now manages and operates all the equipment, staff, and processes at an on-site Print Center.

Why the health care system outsourced

“Having so many different suppliers did not allow us the opportunity to make improvements and provide a better product,” Crabtree says. “We knew outsourcing to a single supplier would also help us reduce cost by allowing us to take control of our inventory and printing items as needed instead of in bulk.”

Technology was the third driver that played into the decision to outsource to Xerox. “We knew Xerox would help us keep up with technology better,” he points out. By utilizing better technology, Methodist was able to take some forms into the electronic world, “so we could save paper and provide a crisper and easier-to-use product.”

Methodist issued a Request for Proposal and received three bids. “We chose Xerox because hands down they knew more about managing the printing process better than anyone else we interviewed,” says Crabtree. “Xerox evaluated how we dealt with our current printing needs, outsourcing costs, and our antiquated use of technology. Their printing services are much more than providing the tools to print. The Xerox team offered a unique opportunity to become a partner that works to help us continually improve services, products, and efficiencies.”

Breaking old habits

The transition from the old way of getting documents printed was not without its challenges. The biggest one was many people in the Methodist organization thought they could still print items on their own.

Xerox met the challenge head on. They got employees on board quickly by delivering a fast turnaround. In fact, a service level agreement was a maximum five-day turnaround and delivery, results that were unheard of before this engagement. “A refined ordering process and constant communication between the customer and the delivery team made this possible,” says Crabtree.

How the new process works

According to Mike Schaefer, Xerox’s on-site Print Center manager, the Methodist Healthcare Print Center is comprised of four black-and-white digital print production devices including two Xerox Docutechs and two Xerox Nuveras, a Xerox iGen3 Digital Color Print Production Press and a two-color Heidelberg offset press. Just as critical as the printing technology itself is how Xerox improved the ordering process for employees.

In the past, Methodist employees submitted orders by interoffice mail, which could take two days to get to the Print Center. Xerox came up with a method to order print jobs right from the employees’ desktops. Employees use the company intranet to fill out electronic printing request forms or “e-tickets.”

Methodist employees can complete their order online and simply push a button to submit their order. The Print Center receives it instantaneously.

According to Schaefer, “The Print Center receives more than 125 job tickets a day and processes about 93 percent of those in five business days or less. This includes everything from business cards and letterhead to medical forms to marketing collateral.” Schaefer says the system is so efficient it has improved production and efficiencies for processing orders without Methodist adding additional staff.

Guardian of the corporate image

According to Crabtree, the Print Center is “the watchful eye over the graphic standards that we must follow so our image is the same across everything we do. Xerox is the gatekeeper for our image.” In addition, he says, Methodist’s forms and collateral look much better; digitizing them gives them a crisper look.

Now the company finally has a solution to handle constant changes required on printed materials. “Digitizing everything allows for quick changes,” he reports. Before Xerox, the hospital had forms inventoried in a warehouse. When Medicare changed a form, for example, the staff had to throw away that inventory. “It was a waste of paper, money, and time,” says Crabtree.

Now Xerox prints all forms on demand, eliminating the inventory problem. The hospital no longer assigns space for stacks of forms, precious real estate it can put to better use.

In terms of financial savings and cost avoidance, Crabtree estimates an annual ROI of $2-$5 million. These savings are material for Methodist, says Crabtree. “Avoiding cost increases and saving money outside of the clinical environment translates into increased capital availability that in turn increases the depth and breadth of care we provide to the communities we serve. That makes us more competitive and further differentiates our brand.”

Lessons from the Outsourcing Journal:

  • Often an outsourcing hurdle is getting employees to use the new procedures. Dramatically better technology, outstanding customer service, overall performance, and ease of use are likely to win them over to the new solution.
  • Instead of having multiple providers of the same service, co-locating a printing outsourcing solution at the buyer’s site can save money and improve performance. Service visibility also promotes acceptance of change.
  • A truly integrated partnership with equal alignment of goals and accountability versus a “distant” supplier relationship improves outsourcing success.

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