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Grady health system to save millions by investing in on-site warehouse

While the trend to use third-party offsite record storage has grown as the volume of records healthcare providers are required to keep increases, Grady Health System is bringing its record management back in-house to cut cost, optimize logistics, and improve patient care. One of the largest health systems in the United States and the premier Level I trauma center for metro Atlanta, Grady expects to save more than $3.5 million over five years by returning to on-site record storage.

"By establishing our own record center, we will eliminate third party fees for storage, pick-up, transport, and docking," says Peter Stephens, Director of Supply Chain Operations for Grady Health System. "Our employees will be able to sign out documents from the storage area, scan them and send them immediately over a secure line to those needing them."

Grady will move more than one million files in 128,000 storage boxes to its own pallet rack filled warehouse. The records include patient care, legal and human resource documents. To achieve the desired efficiency, the warehouse storage racks needed the flexibility to adjust to storage applications, provide maximum storage density, and have the strength to withstand years of use and even potential pallet jack impact.

The outsourced storage system created logistical challenges, delays, and additional costs. Because of privacy regulations, the record management company was not allowed to open storage boxes to pull individual files. Instead, the company transported storage boxes to Grady, where health system employees retrieved the needed documents. When the records were no longer needed, the files had to be placed back in the boxes and transported back to the storage facility.

"Every time we moved or stored records we were charged a fee and the fees really added up," says Stephens. "So did the cost of transporting more records than we actually needed just to retrieve a few."

"The new process will optimize the logistics of our record management and make us more responsive to patient needs," adds Stephens. "It will also help improve our readiness for electronic record management."

For help integrating the right storage racking system, Grady turned to Baker Brothers Installations, a turnkey material handling systems integrator.

Michael Baker, president of Baker Brothers Installations, recommended and Grady selected the SK2000® pallet rack, a boltless, closed tubular upright product by Steel King Industries, a leading manufacturer of material handling and storage racking products.

"For the flexibility needed to accommodate the range of storage applications required, Steel King’s SK2000 boltless pallet rack made it easy to adjust beam profile or elevation at a moment’s notice," says Baker.

To achieve desired storage density with the ability to quickly pick needed records, Baker designed a pallet jack tunnel bay and pass through bays in the pallet rack. Operating warehouse equipment such as pallet jacks made protecting pallet rack uprights from impact a consideration. In pallet rack with open back roll formed columns, warehouse equipment impact can present an elevated risk due to less structural integrity than closed tubular uprights.

"The use of Steel King’s closed tubular upright design offered 250% greater resistance to frontal impact and increased strength to side impact," says Baker. "The closed tubes also eliminated some potential pinch points, and keep the pallet rack cleaner without an opening to accumulate trash, dirt, or dust in the frame." A number of other storage rack features helped the company meet its strength, durability, and maintenance goals.

Compared to open back roll formed columns, the closed tubular uprights are 44 times more torsion/twist resistant, with 250% greater frontal impact resistance and 68% greater side impact resistance. All beams are constructed of high-strength (60,000 p.s.i. minimum) steel, and holes are placed on the column’s face, not the corners, minimizing strength loss.

"The strength of the uprights provide increased structural integrity for the pallet jack tunnel bay and pass through bays," says Baker. "A three rivet connection with 26% greater strength than two rivets also helps to provide more archive storage capacity."

To make the storage racking system even more pallet jack impact resistant, Grady Health System opted for Steel King Guard Dawg protective railing. Anchored to the floor, and with a bright industrial yellow paint finish, the protective railing can help prevent costly rack damage from equipment impact that can lead to warehouse downtime, productivity loss, and rack repair.

Because the rack is powder coated rather than painted with enamel, it’s 94% more resistant to chips and scratches.

"Record storage boxes will be pulled off the shelves for years, and the pallet rack will provide long-term aesthetics that can withstand active use," says Baker.

"The bottom line is that every dollar we save with more efficient record management is a dollar we can invest in health system improvements for patients and staff," says Stephens.

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