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The Case for "Product Advocacy" in the Sterile Processing Universe: Why We Need Each Other

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

In 1966, the indomitable genius of Walt Disney forever seared the words of a catchy folk tune into a nation's imagination. The phrase was simple, yet profoundly in tune with human experience. Brotherhood of man, world peace, nationality, locality -- all rolled up into six words and one water-themed amusement park ride. . .

"It's A Small World (After All)..."

It really is. Anyone who has ever run into an old friend in a busy airport terminal in a random city across the country knows the feeling of a world shrinking down to size. And our corner of the universe in Sterile Processing is no different. Many of us know each other from "the old days" when we were elbow to elbow in the same decontam, trying our best to keep up with a growing pile of flexible scopes needing to be hand-washed. Or we've run into each other at annual conferences for AORN, IAHCSMM, or user conferences for instrument tracking programs. Or maybe we're just faces and names, but we're faces and names that often ring a bell. Folks like the Bob Marrs and Ray Taurasi's of the world, who always seem to be involved in the big conversations of our industry -- whether it's in magazine articles, AAMI work groups, or conference speaking engagements. And there's many more out there who probably come to mind.

So We Know Each Other, So What?

The natural network that is developed in an industry as specialized as ours is one thing. We catch up on a regular basis, some of us email, others call, with the conversations usually focused on a more local level -- dealing with things like the sharing of best practices, navigating staffing challenges, and coordinating educational opportunities (all of which are good things). But there's one topic that is conspicuously absent from much of the current networking occurring in the Sterile Processing field -- especially at the industry level. Let's call that missing link in our networking chain: product advocacy.

The Challenge: Advocating for Best Products

Now don't get me wrong, there's plenty of product advocacy going on by vendors. But we know and understand that's part of their role as vendors. The challenge I'm throwing out here today is for Sterile Processing users themselves, be they department leaders or front-line staff, to make it a point to utilize growing industry networks to advocate for the products that serve them best. To date, a new SPD leader would be hard pressed to find testimonials from other industry leaders on a range of competitive products within a certain category. What's the best enclosed case cart system on the market? We can compare prices easily enough, but where do we go to compare experiences? How long does this system last? How easy are they to repair? How attentive was the salesperson after the contract was signed? 

As an industry, we are great at sharing best practices with each other. The information is out there and there are pipelines to get it into one another's hands. But for too long we have left the decisions about the tools, products, and equipment we use to accomplish those best practices up to supply chain leaders or gut-feelings about quality and brand names. As networked Sterile Processing professionals, we have the ability to crowdsource information at a lightning speed, and actually become proactive advocates for products and companies that excel at helping us do our jobs excellently

And that's my challenge to you. If your department has fallen in love with a lumen brush or rigid container system, share your story, tell your tale. Have you found the perfect sleeve for a laryngoscope blade? Inquiring minds want to know. As Sterile Processing professionals, we are not only experts in processes, but we -- the users -- can become experts in our products. Ultimately, we are all on the same team. We all want the safest patient care and best sterile processing possible at every facility in the country -- because those teams could be caring for us or our loved ones someday, in addition to every other patient who passes through their door. Safety comes with knowing what the best tools are to do the job.

Do you want to build a better Sterile Processing universe?

Commit to becoming an advocate for best products.

What say you?

Hank Balch

Beyond Clean © 2019


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