According to Cody Pregler, there’s a common saying in the sterile processing world: “If it wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen.”
Pregler spent 13 years working as both a technician and supervisor within the sterile processing departments of 2 Illinois hospitals. Now a clinical educator at Censis, he has seen where the sterile processing field has been, where it is now and where it’s headed, thanks to new technologies.
With increasingly restrictive industry regulations, much of the latest technology in the SPD world centers on two priorities:
- Improving patient care
- Staying one step ahead
Sterile processing tools such as surgical instrument tracking software, loaner tray management systems and flexible endoscope tracking systems make it easier than ever to meet both of these growing needs through instant reporting, increased visibility and greater accuracy.
Here are just a few of the ways sterile processing systems can keep a health care facility prepared for whatever may come it’s way.
Tools to see and control the future
One of the biggest benefits of sterile processing systems is improved perioperative efficiency. These systems offer the technology, training, data architecture, clinical support and “paper trails” necessary to keep a sterile processing department on top of – and ahead of – a complex and unknown future.
When Pregler began his sterile processing career at age 16, sterile processing steps were recorded one of two ways:
- On pieces of paper that were stuffed into boxes and stored in warehouses
- By word of mouth
When Joint Commission surveyors came around, it was nearly impossible to find documentation of how often equipment was tested and what processes were used a few months prior. Surgical instrument tracking systems now make that information available with the click of a button.
“The things we did 16 years ago when I worked in sterile processing compared to the things we do now, it’s like two different planets,” said Pregler. “It’s not a ‘trust us’ world anymore – it’s a ‘show us’ world. Now SPDs can tell surveyors what they’re doing and show them proof.”
Sterile processing systems rely on “clean” data to provide accurate reports. When paired with an SPD’s processes, this data gives a comprehensive overview of its entire system, allowing them to uncover potential risks. Clean data also builds a strong foundation to ensure accuracy and accountability.
Censis partners with facilities to provide ongoing services to clean up and enter data into their systems.
Every sterile processing department is unique due to its size, surgical asset inventory and the types of procedures supported. That’s why developing a custom training plan catered to a facility’s processes is critical. Pregler believes Censis’ onsite training support is the most valuable service the company offers.
“As a manager, it’s one thing to run a sterile processing department, but it’s another thing to know all the inner workings of what’s really happening in your SPD,” said Pregler, who provides onsite training as part of his role. “When you have someone there with a fresh set of eyes, sometimes you can see things you didn’t see before. They can help you question why things are done a certain way.”
Enhanced training also makes it easier for staff to learn a department’s expectations and keeps everyone on the same page, helping to set the team up for success.
One unique service Censis offers is utilization assessments. A clinical educator like Pregler comes on site to see how clients are utilizing CensiTrac and shows them how to use parts of the application more successfully.
“Sometimes there’s a lot going on in sterile processing, and leadership teams can get away from all of the cool, extra tools they have using CensiTrac,” said Pregler. “We help determine what other features may help their department.”
Ongoing clinical support
Challenges in SPDs never fully go away, which is why it’s helpful to have a dedicated team to assist with questions or concerns as they arise. Pregler’s favorite part of his job is helping clients thrive.
“You can see the relief on their faces when they realize you’re genuinely there to help them,” said Pregler. “My favorite part is helping people and seeing them succeed, from where they started to where they are by the time I leave.”