Mohawk Shared Services
A vision for healthcare excellence
Once serving Southern Ontario primarily as a central laundry, today Mohawk Shared Services (MSS) is a diversified company expertly providing supply chain management and employee assistance counseling, its foremost laundering services, and a diagnostic imaging repository, a crucial part of the critical Electronic Heath Record being created in Canada to electronically store patient diagnostics.
When looking at Mohawk’s expertise, it is important to start at the company’s beginnings as a laundry serving the healthcare industry. The company started its laundering business incorporated in 1970 with an aim to centralize linen service offering efficiencies, and from there, enable cost savings that would otherwise be unobtainable. Mohawk has since grown into a very successful not-for-profit organization, and includes an impressive 30 hospital-strong network, from the Waterloo/Wellington region over to the Niagara Peninsula and across to the GTA.
The organization is a complex one, but operates with the highest standards in mind—as healthcare in Canada dictates. Tony Di Emanuele, President and CEO for Mohawk says that the intent of a shared service organization such as MSS is to be used “as an engine of transformation that can improve performance and generate savings,” and so that, in essence, is the “nature of the business,” for the Mohawk team. “Any of our savings and surplus,” Di Emanuele adds, “are shared with the hospitals that we serve.”
Mohawk operations: a shared service organization (SSO)
Mohawk Shared Services is one of the largest organizations of its kind, made up of four (aforementioned) business streams. In addition to laundry, the other three divisions were added including the diagnostic imaging repository (DI-r). It might seem at the outset that this type of diversification could potentially dilute each service’s capacity, but this is not the scenario for Mohawk. With a combination of new and mature business arms, the conglomerate of hospitals actually receives better service with this strategic approach.
For instance, the supply chain service stream is a purchases and logistics-based business providing contract management and service agreements for the network of hospitals, while using the Mohawk warehouse to ship the product. MSS’ supply chain arm provides procurement, warehousing, and reconciliation services for medical/surgical products and hospital commodities. According to Di Emanuele, executing this part of the business is done in individual hospitals, “under the leadership of the CEOs of those hospitals and OntarioBuys, this service is now centralized under Mohawk Shared Services.”
The capacity for an SSO like Mohawk to operate greatly depends on an ability to execute to high standards, especially in healthcare. Traditionally, Mohawk follows strict infection control guidelines for bed and operating room linens under their laundry services stream, and has one of the most state-of-the-art automated health care laundry facilities in the area. The facility processes an impressive 30 million pounds of linen per year, all the while, operating with superior health and safety regulations.
Mohawk’s laundry services operate on a just-in-time model, enabling the company to cut down on storage capacity. They also employ a modern inventory control system to take pressure from hospital staff management.
Clearly, diversifying for MSS means ultimately running a smoother, simpler machine. And running smoothly is especially imperative when it comes to the newest arm of the business: the diagnostic repository funded by eHealth Ontario and Canada Health Infoway and ultimately the hospitals.
Mohawk Shared Services diagnostic imagery repository
For MSS, being an SSO on the cutting edge of technology has made them a major player in one of the most important healthcare initiatives in the country: The Electronic Health Record. According to Mohawk, the creation of the diagnostic imaging repository (DI-r) is “a critical component of [Canada’s] EHR.” The EHR is meant to improve access to a the quality of health services by making the health care system more efficient, and Mohawk Shared Services has already contributed a critical amount to the project.
The Mohawk Shared Services (MSS)/South West Ontario Diagnostic Imaging Network (SWODIN) repository is set for completion in 2011. The repository, according to Mohawk, “will enable participating health facilities from Waterloo-Wellington and Hamilton-Niagara-Haldimand-Brant Local Health Integrated Networks to electronically store, retrieve and share patient diagnostic health information such as X-ray, Ultrasound, CT, MRI, and the reports associated with them.” The system will manage an annual 3 million exams.
Advantages at the patient level of the repository are many, and include:
Radiologists and clinicians will have quick and easy access to diagnostic images and will be able to diagnose regardless of the patient’s location
Immediate diagnostic image availability and electronic report sharing will enable faster handling of emergency cases
The DI-r will enhance clinician collaboration and knowledge transfer which will result in better treatment and fewer retakes which reduces radiation exposure
When a patient needs specialized care not offered in their home community, their physician will be able to create treatment plans and interventions by collaborating with specialists who may be located in other communities, reducing wait times.
The number of patients transferred between facilities and patient travel time may be reduced.
The MSS DI-r project management team works with member hospitals to make sure a transition to the repository is smooth, and the team is prepared to deal with any challenges along the way.
Di Emanuele explains that the real mission for MSS is to offer superior services through every arm of the organization. When dealing with healthcare, patients are number one, and the MSS team always keeps that in mind. “We strive to be the best SSO,” Di Emanuele says. The organization is constantly striving to improve effectiveness by boosting best practices. “By centrally organizing business streams and putting in place the best practices, there is great opportunity to provide superior services, generate savings centrally that cannot be obtained individually, and there is financial value for that; an IT system and procurement system that allows us to maximize our business systems,” he adds. Of course, like other organizations in healthcare, people are very important and passionate about the work that they do, and Di Emanuele says that MSS employees “give back a lot, and are in tune with [MSS network] hospitals.”
For MSS, the competitive advantage is that the organization’s stakeholders are vested and willing to utilize the physical distribution facilities at their disposal. “Our reason for being is to achieve business objectives for our hospital stakeholders,” says Di Emanuele.
“The more savings that we can generate, the best practices and benefits go to our customers. Our customers actually sit on our Board of Directors as well, with 10 of the 12 seats represented by hospitals.” By having a more economical and efficient organization, MSS customers reap greater benefits.
“We offer contract management services and transportation, and are one of the few SSOs that have a warehouse, so we’re a little different” he adds, pointing out another advantage to being in the MSS network. “Because we are a multi-divisional SSO, we do offer advantages across divisions, so we can get into transportation savings by shipping supply chain and linens together on the same truck. We can add more values in our services because we’ve embarked in one initiative called the Complete Delivery System that is a combination of linen products and supply chain items that are used in the procedures, and we’re boxing that and bringing them right to the hospital room.” All in all, Di Emanuele beams: “We’re starting to find cross-divisional benefits.”
Business growth and expansion
In addition to the MSS laundry services, supply chain management arm, and repository initiatives, the company also has a focus on employee assistance in a division branded in 1990 as Hurst Place. The Hurst Place Employee Assistance Program assists organizations and their employees with services provided from expert, experienced, accredited staff. Hurst Place provides employee assistance to people with complex issues such as substance abuse, relationship issues, work related issues that may lead to unfortunate circumstances. Hurst Place also offers a host of wellness and training support programs, such as the latest Bill 168 legislation requirements.
This employee assistance division is a sensible counterpart to the other branches of MSS, showing the organization’s ever-expanding network can only improve and grow. Di Emanuele concludes by saying that MSS is “working together and putting in best practices in place so that we’re able to achieve savings and returns as set out in our business plan.”
Recently, MSS had their annual meeting and the results were very positive: not only did MSS meet their intended financial goals, they were able to exceed anticipated results and give back some surpluses to the hospitals—and this is just the type of growth and return the organization wants to see: “If we can continue to work together on these identified streams in finding more savings, those dollars are all redirected to patient care,” Di Emanuele adds.
The most important thing for MSS, going forward: that the network remains strong, and that the hospitals continue to work together. As Di Emanuele puts it: “kudos to the hospitals for finding and carrying out that vision.”