How a Mississippi ASC transformed its inventory approach during the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has "changed everything in the ambulatory surgery space, including strategic planning and supply chain," according to Helene Levenson, BSN, RN, senior consultant of clinical operations for Cardinal Health.

The Surgery Center at Mississippi Sports Medicine in Flowood was no exception, but its partnership with Cardinal Health made a massive difference in its ability to flourish despite new obstacles.

During a Nov. 4 webinar sponsored by Cardinal Health and hosted by Becker's ASC Review, Ms. Levenson and Meredith Warf, administrator of The Surgery Center at Mississippi Sports Medicine, discussed four challenges COVID-19 created or exacerbated and how the ASC worked to overcome them:

1. Supply shortages. To manage allocations, inventory on hand and deliveries amid supply shortages that first became an issue in mid-February, the ASC's materials manager works closely with a Cardinal representative on a daily basis.

"The natural tendency in a pandemic is to hoard everything that you can, but then you compound the national shortage and you've got hospitals that need your personal protective equipment," Ms. Warf said. "We pride ourselves in our efficiencies and not keeping all that extra inventory on hand. It's just extra money sitting around that we don't have, and we don't have the space."

2. Strategic planning. In addition to collaboration between the materials manager and Cardinal reps — both of whom Ms. Warf called "unsung heroes" — leveraging Cardinal's data on previous usage and seasonality proved invaluable to the The Surgery Center at Mississippi Sports Medicine.

"Using that data helps to affirm what you are estimating and projecting for your power levels and inventory, and really does give leadership confidence in how you're planning for that," Ms. Warf said.

3. Contamination risk. One of the ASC's primary goals during the pandemic has been to create an environment where patients and staff trust that care can be safely provided. With that aim in mind, Ms. Levenson has seen many ASCs shift to using disposable supplies.

"A lot of people have now moved to just using a disposable such as blood pressure cuffs or electrocardiogram leads," Ms. Levenson said. "Even using turnover kits that contain disposable sheets and draw sheets in the operating room shows there has been a lot of change to decrease the cross contamination for the patient."

4. Vendor relationships. The pandemic has forever changed the way Ms. Warf reads contracts – specifically force majeure clauses detailing what happens to the contract when business is interrupted. Moreover, COVID-19 has heightened the need for productive partnerships with vendors.  

"[We're] looking at how we deepen our partnerships with our vendors," Ms. Warf said. "We really want to make sure that we have alignment in our vision and what we want to do."

Click here to view a recording of the webinar.

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