5 Strategies for Saving Your ASC Money by Streamlining Equipment Costs

Mike Kintner, service contracts manager at TriMedx, shares five strategies ASCs should adopt to achieve significant, sustainable equipment savings.

1. Consolidate equipment purchases. An ASC should strive to make bigger purchases, as opposed to buying equipment and supplies as the need spontaneously arises, by strategizing what the facility needs over a longer period of time. In doing so, an ASC gains an advantage in negotiating prices on the initial acquisition cost and other related expenses.

"Instead of purchasing equipment here and there, it's much better for ASCs to plan a more strategic approach to what the needs are over a long period of time," says Mr. Kintner. "For example, instead of buying three pieces of equipment over six months, the facility should look at possibly buying three pieces of the equipment at once. This way, it can position itself for negotiating discounts on capital and also costs related to services, training, warranty terms, software, manuals and so on."

2. Work to negotiate a warranty tailored to your advantage. Mr. Kintner suggests ASCs take advantage of equipment warranties by tailoring them to specific facility needs. He says most medical equipment warranties last for 12 months, which means companies will provide labor services and extra parts free of cost for that period of time. If your ASC already has a technician who is trained in the clinical and technical support of a newly purchased piece of equipment, he suggests negotiating the labor portion of a warranty and extending the portion of the warranty that guarantees covered costs for additional parts.

"If I'm buying 20 anesthesia machines and they come with a 12-month parts and labor warranty and I already have a trained technician who can support it and do repairs, what I might want to do is negotiate 90 days of labor warranty and two years of coverage of parts instead," Mr. Kintner says. "A warranty is usually already baked into the acquisition price, so what you're doing is just reallocating the value of the warranty."

He says ASCS should also take advantage of warranties by having their clinical engineering teams or other staff technicians work with the original equipment manufacturers during labor services as a form of free training. Additionally, ASCs should use the warranty to evaluate the long-term service needs of that piece of equipment.

3. Standardize equipment. Facilities should standardize equipment make and models by ordering equipment from as few companies as possible. This will save ASCs time and money over ordering different pieces of the same equipment from a wide variety of companies.

"Let's say your facility needed to replace 10 defibrillators. Instead of replacing them each time with different makes and models, an ASC is better off standardizing so that in case a new staff member is hired to work in the facility; [this way] you only need to train and provide support for one make and one model of defibrillators," Mr. Kintner says. "Also, ASCs need consumables like ECG leads in support of the defibrillators, which are gel pads for defibrillators. So standardizing by make and model saves money by avoiding the need to order different kinds of gel pads."

4. Manage the total life cycle of equipment. Mr. Kintner says the costs related to supporting a piece of equipment over its entire life cycle, from the point of acquisition to disposal, may actually equal or exceed what it cost to just purchase it. To minimize life cycle service costs as much as possible, he suggests ASCs strategically analyze whether a piece of equipment requires lifetime support that is cost-effective.

"What organizations don't look at is how much it costs over a piece of equipment's life span to support it, and they usually only look at the capital acquisition," he says. "They have to actively manage service costs to understand that maybe an investment in equipment with higher capital would be better because its service costs over its life span will be lower than cheaper equipment."

5. Create and involve a clinical engineering team. If your ASC doesn't already have a clinical engineering team charged with support of the facility's equipment, Mr. Kintner strongly suggests ASCs create that resource because those staff members understand both technical and clinical aspects of the equipment needed to provide high quality care.

"CETs are a great resource to assist in the operational and financial analysis of equipment purchases because they understand the technical perspective and also have a clinical understanding," he says. "ASCs can bring them into the process of analyzing acquisitions, total life cycle management, warranty options, discount negotiations and all the other things that were mentioned previously."

Learn more about TriMedx.

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