4 key considerations for supply chain optimization in the ASC

As more surgeries transition to the outpatient setting, ASCs are under increased pressure to have the necessary supplies and support available to nurses and surgeons to meet increasing demands. 

Although the demand for outpatient surgery has increased, the reimbursement rates have not seen the same growth, Paula Starner, LPN, said during a July 15 webinar. With reimbursements not tracking with increased demand, ASC administrators have to analyze budget sheets with a sharp eye. 

When assessing costs, ASC leaders must give staffing and supplies special consideration as these two areas make up a considerable amount of an organization's overall spend. A majority of centers utilize 20 percent to 40 percent of their revenue on staffing and supplies, according to a 2018 HealthCare Appraisers survey. 

During the webinar, which was sponsored by Medline and presented by Becker's ASC Review, Ms. Starner detailed four things ASC and outpatient center leaders should consider when evaluating the supply chain in order to improve operations. 

1. Cost: Many people may simply associate cost as price. However, leaders must consider other variables when determining the cost of a device, employee or procedure. Inventory space is limited in ASCs, so it is imperative to make sure each tool is being used. If a supply is going unused or not used frequently, it may be time to consider eliminating it from purchasing orders. Every contract must be evaluated to ensure the ASC is receiving the best price for the resource being used, Ms. Starner said. 

Beyond doing the work in-house to analyze costs, Ms. Starner advises ASC administrators and supply chain managers to work and form relationships with vendors. 

"Vendors are constantly going to other facilities to see what products are being used," Ms. Starner said. "I have a strong relationship with some of my vendors, and I rely on them to come to me and say which products are doing well at other outpatient centers." 

2. Quality: Similar as evaluating costs, it is important for ASCs to use vendors for assistance when considering quality. Vendors can provide further details on product education, case support and recalls. Additionally, vendors can offer referrals for benchmarking and inventory management. 

It's also important to have physician champions when introducing new products or processing into the mix. If a physician can demonstrate that a tool causes better outcomes and is more efficient, other physicians are more likely to support the change. 

3. Efficiency: At an ASC where resources are limited, making sure the supply chain is moving efficiently is crucial. Ms. Starner recommends getting team members and different stakeholders involved, setting deadlines for orders and purchasing requirements. Additionally, only using trusted vendors that are responsive can ensure patients are getting the best products and operations are running seamlessly. Ms. Starner only uses a limited number of vendors that she can trust to provide honest feedback about products. 

"ASCs should also consider customizing procedure packs from preoperative to postoperative to discharge," Ms. Starner said. "This can decrease overall inventory, decrease the time it takes for multiple staff members to retrieve the supplies needed and make it easier to maintain inventory overall."

4. Patient safety: When it comes to supplies and equipment, purchasing managers must make sure every product is safe and a must-have for patients. To do this, ASC administrators can ask staff and surgeons to complete evaluation forms. Additionally, if a leader is concerned about a product or tool, it is important to get the right people involved to analyze it and ensure the patient is still receiving quality care. Like with all aspects of the supply chain, managers can use their vendors as reference to obtain data on the quality and standards of products and devices. 


When new technology and products emerge, ASC administrators may be too quick or slow to jump on it. Instead of thinking about being below or behind the curve of innovation, supply chain managers need to constantly reevaluate the cost, quality, efficiency and safety behind products to ensure optimized operations. 

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