With supply costs as one of the top two expenses for surgery centers (staffing is the other), more and more ASCs are purchasing reprocessed devices, which help to reduce costs, among other benefits.
Scott McDade, vice president, surgery center sales, with McKesson Medical-Surgical, discusses six things ASCs should know about using reprocessed devices and establishing reprocessing programs in their facilities.
1. Reprocessed devices are safe and effective. Reprocessed devices go through an extensive decontamination, inspection and sterilization process that ensures they meet or exceed federal requirements for original manufacture of new devices. To learn about the required steps a common ASC device goes through when it is reprocessed, you can read "5 Critical Steps in the Reprocessing of Single-Use Devices."
2. Amount of work for the ASC is minimal. For an ASC to establish a reprocessing program, it first needs to partner with a reprocessor. The reprocessor then supplies the ASC with a designated bin for reprocessable devices and instructions for preparing devices to be placed in the bin, which may include a simple decontamination of the devices. Then the ASC either mails the devices to the reprocessor or the reprocessor may retrieve the bin.
"Quite often it's as simple as educating staff on which devices need to go in the reprocessing bin — building the habit of throwing a device in the reprocessing bin rather than throwing it in red bag waste," says Mr. McDade. "Some facilities actually create incentive programs for their techs to reprocess in order to maximize the savings."
You can learn about one successful ASC program by reading "Developing a Successful ASC Reprocessing Program."
3. Savings opportunities are significant. While there are a number of different pricing formulas to determine the true cost of a reprocessed device, it is, on average, around 50 percent of the cost of a new device, says Mr. McDade.
"That is significant money and every one of our customers is looking for savings opportunities," he says. Additional savings are achieved by reducing the amount of red-bag waste.
4. Thousands of reprocessable devices. Thousands of devices used by ASCs can be reprocessed. Devices that can be reprocessed, according to reprocessor SterilMed, include the following categories:
- Arthroscopic shavers
- Laparoscopic instruments
- Compression sleeves
- Imaging and EP catheters
- Biopsy forceps
- Drill bits
- Saw blades
- Pulse oxisensors
Orthopedic blades are commonly used in ASCs and are reprocessable, says Mr. McDade. "A lot of people think you can't reprocess a blade because it has been leaned on, pushed on or bent, but the reality is they're brought back to the exact manufacturer's standards that were required for a new blade."
5. One-hundred percent reclamation rate is an option and turnaround time is fast. Many devices sent to reprocessors are disposed of if they fail to pass the required, stringent tests. But ASCs can still receive an equal number of devices back from reprocessors as the number they send for reprocessing, says Mr. McDade.
"Customers have two options; they can just get back what was reprocessable of the devices they send in, and that's roughly around a 75 percent reclamation rate, or they can choose to get 100 percent back," he says. "If the customer chooses to receive the same number of devices as what they sent, they will receive 25 percent of devices accumulated by the reprocessor from other facilities."
Reprocessors have developed efficient processes that allow them to turn around stock in roughly 3-4 weeks, Mr. McDade says. "Once you get up and going, you're getting product back on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. It works like a continuous replenishment program," he says.
6. Reprocessing is environmentally friendly. While cost saving is the primary driver for facilities, many also find the environmentally-friendly component appealing. "You're re-utilizing instruments rather than putting them into landfills," says Mr. McDade. Reprocessors divert millions of pounds of waste from landfills annually, he says.
This is a significant reason why McKesson encourages its clients to consider reprocessing programs.
"It's very important to our customers that we provide safe, environmentally friendly solutions that also save money," says Mr. McDade. "With reprocessing, we can meet all three of these challenges with one solution."
Learn more about McKesson Medical-Surgical.
Read more about ASC cost savings opportunities: