How can your ASC reduce waste by 5% & accrue savings? Manage your inventory

ASC staff members have a multitude of tasks on their plates, and inventory management can often fall low on an ASC's list of priorities. However, leaders are increasingly learning the value of inventory management to yield major savings as well as limit the amount of waste they produce.

Stephanie Martin, MHA, CASC, VP of operations and clinical for Regent Surgical Health, has been in the healthcare space for more than 20 years. Joining Regent more than a year ago, Ms. Martin shares her insight into how ASCs can benefit from making inventory management a core part of their overall strategy.

"A center that is not managing [its] inventory can mean the difference between being profitable and losing money," she says.

Surgery centers fall prey to losing money on their inventory for a host of reasons, including a lack of awareness about procedures' costs or overstocking items past their expiration date. When staff members are pressed for time, they may find it difficult to manage the many moving parts and often overlook areas that are costing the surgery center a substantial amount of capital. To eliminate some of these blind spots, surgery centers should:
•    Regularly review vendor/group purchasing organization contracts and ensure that the amount being charged for supplies is consistent with the negotiated price
•    Capture all items surgeons use during a case
•    Evaluate products' prices. Surgery centers can readily swap items without making major changes to their daily operations

How a culture change improved this center's inventory management
Ms. Martin worked with a facility that intermittently tracked its procedures' cost, rather than making this a routine exercise. To better gauge how the center could save money and limit unnecessary spending, she advised the surgery center to create specific preference cards for every case and capture every item surgeons using during procedures.

"The process began a culture change that made each team member aware of each item's cost. Expenses were captured and monitored and waste was reduced by 5 percent. Those savings went straight to the bottom line," she says.

A core element of an inventory management program requires engagement from a center's staff. If staff members don't buy into the strategy behind managing inventory, the legwork involved in establishing a program will be for naught. To combat this potential issue, Ms. Martin advises making the program exciting for employees by rewarding those staff members who devise the most innovative savings ideas. ASCs can track savings accrued from the program and distribute a percentage of the savings back to the employee.

Ms. Martin is among the key speakers at Becker's ASC 24th Annual Meeting: The Business and Operations of ASC. To learn more and register for the event, click here.

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