Supplying the Hands That Provide the Care
It’s no surprise that Intermountain Healthcare’s supply chain center was ranked No. 1 in the 2016 Gartner Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25. The Salt Lake City company has gotten its supply chain process down to a science.
Located just 15 minutes south of the state capitol, Intermountain’s 327,000-sq.-ft. supply chain center is a model of efficiency and cost management. Each day, employees pick and pack thousands of medical supplies from the company’s warehouse — with an accuracy rate greater than 99% — and deliver them to Intermountain’s 22 hospitals and 185 clinics throughout Utah and southern Idaho. Over the past decade, the operation has saved the company more than $586 million and earned it national recognition.
Until a few years ago, though, this efficiency model had not influenced the company’s internal printing procedures very much. Intermountain employees were allowed to send print jobs wherever they wanted. This resulted in inconsistent pricing, unregulated brand and compliance control and difficulty tracking Intermountain’s print spend.
“We needed to do something with print, because we knew that there was a lot of spend that was going wherever they had budget,” remarks Tami Reese, operations manager at the Intermountain Design & Print Center.
Not only was this wasteful, but there was no central control over the company’s branding — a big problem for a nationally recognized healthcare provider.
The Genesis of an In-plant
Reese had been a graphic designer and print broker for Intermountain since 1990. She ran small print jobs on a walk-up color printer in a 700-sq.-ft space in the company’s corporate office. In an effort to track and reduce the company’s spending on printing, she was asked to create a business case to decide whether it made sense to consolidate Intermountain’s various printing operations into one central in-plant.
Reese examined the company’s contracts with FedEx Office, investigated equipment and space requirements, hired consultants to get advice on staffing and developed a thorough plan for opening a new in-plant. She estimated a 10-year return on investment.
Based on her work, Intermountain set aside 7,000 sq. ft. of space inside its supply chain center and in October of 2012 opened the doors to its new Design & Print Center. Because of an existing contract with Ricoh held by Intermountain’s SelectHealth division, the company decided to rewrite that agreement to cover a staff of six Ricoh contractors to operate the Ricoh and Kodak digital printing equipment. In addition, the new in-plant included three graphic designers and two finishing specialists. Over the past four years, the staff has grown to nine Ricoh operators, six designers, four finishing specialists, a catalog manager and a coordinator.
The new in-plant specializes in printing such items as patients’ explanation of benefits statements, open enrollment materials, provider directories and hospital statements. It also prints business cards, forms, brochures, letterhead, envelopes and posters, using four monochrome and two color digital printers. An RFP is currently out to upgrade the in-plant’s equipment with two monochrome and two color digital devices.
ROI Surpasses Expectations
In its first four years, the Design & Print Center has surpassed its goals. Its 10-year ROI is on track to take half that time.
“We have validated about $650,000 savings a year,” Reese reveals. Those are the kind of savings that make a world-class supply chain operation like Intermountain’s very happy.
Customers are happy too with the savings they’re getting over the cost to print outside. Though its prices are lower, Reese says, the Design & Print Center must continually evaluate them “to make sure that we are net zero at the end of every year.”
Still, not every department uses the in-plant, so she finds herself marketing the operation at every opportunity. The in-plant participates in “road show” events at all of the hospitals, displaying print samples on a table and talking with customers about their needs.
“It’s just a good time to talk to the people throughout the company and let them know that we’re here for them,” Reese remarks.
One great advantage the in-plant has is that it’s located in the same facility as Intermountain’s couriers, who are in charge of delivering medical supplies throughout the system. They pick up completed orders five or six times each day and travel to each of Intermountain’s 22 hospitals and 185 clinics, so print jobs are delivered promptly into customers’ hands.
The Web-to-Print Advantage
To improve the process on the front end, the in-plant is currently implementing WebCRD online ordering software from Rochester Software Associates. Reese expects it to go live this month.
“That’s going to be a huge thing, to have an online customer ordering site,” she says. “It’s going to create so many efficiencies.”
Once it’s up and running, she has plans to use those efficiencies to attract more Intermountain customers who may still be using third-party providers.
“We can go out and market the department more and bring in some more of that print that’s still going externally,” she says.
Another type of software that’s helping to bring in work is PaperCut print management software, installed on the company’s approximately 8,500 workroom copiers and printers. When someone tries to print a job that is more than 200 pages, a message appears suggesting that they send the job to the Design & Print Center where it can be produced more cost effectively.
Since opening for business, the in-plant has added a couple of services based on demand. It brought in a laser engraver from Universal Laser Systems.
“We saw a need for trophies and awards and plaques,” Reese points out. External suppliers required large minimum orders, so the in-plant was able to justify bringing this service in-house to save the company money. The shop now does about five such projects a week, and has expanded to other items such as custom art pieces, name tags and key chains.
Sewing It All Up
Another new service the in-plant added was embroidery.
“We had a lot of requests for customized shirts,” Reese says, such as for events, contests, golf tournaments and the like. So the shop added a Barudan embroidery machine.
“That thing stays very busy,” Reese remarks.
The in-plant previously had an Anajet garment printer, but she says the machine wasn’t compatible with Utah’s low humidity, and her staff had to constantly clean the lines and replace inks.
These new services joined the in-plant’s already flourishing wide-format printing business. Its HP Designjet Z6200 produces retractable banners, posters and informational signs.
The in-plant works closely with Intermountain’s sign center, which produces all of the heavy duty signage for the company.
The Design & Print Center strives to support Intermountain’s commitment to sustainable and responsible use of resources. It recycles paper, toner and corrugated materials, and has eliminated many chemicals and VOCs. By printing materials on demand to reduce inventory and waste, and looking for ways to use fewer materials, such as relying on digital proofs, the in-plant is contributing to the company’s efforts.
Reese says the staff of the Design & Print Center is devoted to Intermountain Healthcare’s mission: “Helping people live the healthiest lives possible.” To remind them of this, she says, the in-plant developed its own moto: “We supply the hands that provide the care.”
“When we’re not working with patients on a daily basis, it can lend itself to forgetting what it is you’re here for,” she says. “So we remind ourselves that it’s still all about the patient, and whatever we put on paper is very important to their care.”
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Graphics since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 130 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Graphics.