Tips For Intelligent Cost Management

by Healthcare Purchasing News

March 3, 2007

  • Selectively invest in quality - Certain instruments, such as needle holders and scissors, are more likely to breed surgeon contention than others if quality or maintenance is sub par. Purchase the highest grade of these and similar instruments, and your surgeon and staff satisfaction will rise.
  • Evaluate the best contenders for cost-cutting - Economizing on handheld retractors, sponge forceps, towel clips, dressing, tissue forceps and basic hemostats will likely not impact surgeon satisfaction.
  • If it sounds cheap, it is cheap - Any item priced at the $5.00 level is sub-standard, no matter what the vendor says. Basement-bottom pricing is an indicator of poor quality.
  • Streamline purchasing - You’ll save thousands by focusing only on the instruments you need. Sets are often designed by instrument companies and include unnecessary parts. E.g., when buying a Bookwalter®-type ring, purchase only the essential components and avoid complete sets.
  • Maintain accurate expectations of instrument utilization - If you hear of new surgeons or new procedures coming to your facility, confirm that you’ll get a strong ROI before fulfilling an instrument "wish list."
  • Keep contracts in order - They must be current and in effect, with proper discount grading levels. All paper work must be completed by you and filed by your vendor before purchasing. Even after paperwork has been filed, pricing must still be loaded against your account. All of the above must occur to ensure savings, or you may be overpaying.
  • Compare pricing on discontinued items - Companies often discontinue items as a cost-cutting measure. Some remain available via special order at a significant premium. Seek out other vendors, who may carry the same manufacturers and offer the items without the premium.
  • Investigate repair options - Evaluate reputable repair companies before resorting to a new purchase. "Non-repairable" instruments can often be fixed by third-party services at a significant savings compared to the original vendor.
  • Rightsize your existing trays for faster processing, less labor and lower costs - Carefully list all items in a tray and have a scrub tech track usage of each item, creating new set lists when appropriate. Surgeons should review all updated trays; remove all unused items. Only add to a tray when you’re sure the instrument will be utilized in the majority of cases.
  • Weigh instruments costs against patient safety

Although instrument sets can be a significant investment, the cost pales in comparison to the detriment associated with declining patient safety. Not only does this risk the patient health, but also the facility’s reputation, possibly leaving it vulnerable to lawsuits and compromised accreditation.

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