4 Steps to Efficient Surgery Center Supply Management & Control

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At the 20th Annual Ambulatory Surgery Centers Conference on Oct. 25, Senior Vice President of Operations at Ambulatory Surgical Centers of America Ann Geier, RN, MSN, CNOR, CASC, shared strategies for inventory management and control at ASCs. 

1. Prioritize organization. A surgery center's inventory includes medical supplies, drugs, gases, implants, equipment, packs, sutures and office supplies. Inventory count sheets should be generated from a computer system or kept on paper. Separate consignment items from supplies the center owns. Maintain par levels, the maximum and minimum levels of items that should be kept in the center. "These levels are user friendly if implemented correctly. These ensure that you don't over or under stock," said Ms. Geier. 

Inventory management should also take into account physician preference cards. 

Preference cards can be used to organize the pulling of supplies, case costing, billing and inventory tracking.
2. Stay on top of the details. "The devil is in the details," said Ms. Geier. A good materials manager will always pay attention to detail. Each purchase order should be unique, organized in a numerical system. Each PO should be reconciled with its corresponding packing slip and invoice. The accounts payable procedures and policies should be clear. At ASCOA centers, administrators enter information in QuickBooks on a daily basis. 

3. Maintain inventory information. The initial inventory process begins before a surgery center even performs its first case. The process takes several weeks and once done, it must always be maintained. Loading inventory into the system, whether on the computer or on paper, is a systematic process. After hours staff help may be necessary. Implants are one of the biggest losses in ASC supply costs. Particular attention is needed to track each implement throughout the inventory system. 

4. Monitor your points of service relationships. A surgery center's inventory involves contact with a number of different parties. Points of service include a group purchasing organization, distributor, vendor, sales representative, websites, materials manger and in some cases an AP clerk. With each different point of service comes its own set of issues, including contracts, shipping prices, price changes, availability of help and knowledge of the OR environment. Ms. Geier reminded the audience, "You can negotiate anything."

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