5 Ways to Save Money on ASC Equipment

Joe Skochdopole, executive director of finance for TriMedx, discusses five ways to save money on ASC equipment.

1. Invest in technicians to maintain your equipment.
While the capital purchase of equipment might seem more daunting in the short term, service contracts provided by the original equipment manufacturer can cost your facility significantly more money over a period of several years. According to Mr. Skochdopole, centers can usually save money by employing their own technicians to maintain and fix equipment, rather than relying on service contracts that can charge more than five times the salary of the technician per hour of work.

Investing in quality technicians is not cheap, but it reduces your reliance on manufacturer contracts and ensures you have a staff member available to promote equipment uptime and get to know your facility's needs. Mr. Skochdopole says the proximity alone of an employed technician can be valuable. "One of the critical factors is response time," he says. "If you have someone on site, it's a matter of them walking [to the equipment]. Depending on where you're located, a manufacturer may have to send somebody out from a major city, so you have half a day of downtime before they can even take a look at it."

The minimum amount of time equipment is down, the better your revenue generation will be, he says. In terms of finding quality technicians, Mr. Skochdopole says facilities can hire people straight form the manufacturer, where technicians may be tired of working on the road and want to stay in one place. You can also look at local technical schools, inquire with the American College of Clinical Engineering or advertise locally.

2. Concentrate on long-term vendor relationships.
There are thousands of suppliers that can provide your center with products, but buying one item each from many different suppliers will mean you have little leverage with each vendor. "If we can work with one group, we can get volume discounts," he says. If you're buying supplies or medical equipment, consider buying in bulk and spreading out the payments over a period of months. "The idea is you don't have to give them all the cash today, but if I say, 'I'm going to buy three of these and give you cash in equal installments over the next nine months,' they can control their cash flow a lot better," he says.

Mr. Skochdopole says the key to building long-term vendor relationships is following up on your promises. If you say your center will purchase 80 percent of a certain supply from a vendor and you only purchase 40 percent, the original equipment manufacturer will be annoyed and you will not receive a discount. If, on the other hand, you establish that you follow through on your purchase promises, your vendor is likely to offer discounts and bulk purchasing options that benefit your facility.

3. Consider forgoing the warranty. If you invest in quality technicians who can maintain and fix your equipment, Mr. Skochdopole says you might consider opting out of equipment warranties. He compares the purchase to buying a quality car that is unlikely to break down during the first year of operation. "If you're buying a brand new Toyota truck, and they say, 'We'll give you a one-year warranty,' you could say you don't need the warranty because the probability of it failing is so small that I'll take the risk," he says. "It's all gambling, but the probability is in your favor you're going to win."

4. Standardize equipment as much as possible.
Mr. Skochdopole says many healthcare facilities find it difficult to standardize equipment, as different providers have different needs and some vendors specialize in particular products but may not be able to provide everything a center needs. However, he says that your center should standardize equipment purchase as much as possible to improve your relationship with the vendor. You can accomplish this by implementing a formalized process for physicians before they introduce a new piece of equipment to the center.

5. Use equipment data to inform your purchases. Tracking data on your equipment, including its percentage of uptime and downtime and how often it needs to be fixed, can help inform your decisions about purchasing in the future. "You can really become the consumer reports of medical equipment, which will help you cut through the manufacturer marketing and give you information on the most low-cost, efficient medical device," he says. The data can also tell you the most effective and efficient way to maintain a piece of equipment based on past experience.

This data can also give you an idea of whether to accept or reject warranties in the future. If a certain piece of equipment has failed several times in its first year in the past, perhaps you should opt for the warranty — or decide to purchase a different piece of equipment altogether.

Learn more about TriMedx.

Read more supply chain advice:

-3 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your GPO Relationship

-5 Ways to Reduce Supply Costs at Your Orthopedics-Driven ASC

-Study Proposes Steps Providers Can Take to Control OR Costs

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