ASCs continue to face supply chain challenges: Here's how to improve them

Challenges in the healthcare supply chain have been exacerbated over the last three years by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has increased costs and decreased product availability worldwide. 

According to a recent report from the American Hospital Association, the healthcare supply chain will not return to "normal" anytime soon. 

Supply chain issues are impacting all healthcare organizations, from ASCs to hospitals. 

Leslie Jebson, regional administrator at Prisma Health in Greenville, S.C., spoke with Becker's about the biggest supply chain challenges ASCs are facing this year, and how ASCs can improve supply chain resiliency and costs. 

Question: What are the biggest supply chain challenges ASCs will face in 2023? 

Leslie Jebson: Whilst geographically variable (i.e., some markets influenced more than others) I still believe we have challenges with the consistency and reliability of acquiring key medical supplies. Global raw material shortages, coupled with pent-up surgical demand, are influencing these challenges. Another facet of national supply-chain-related challenges also involves product recalls: tourniquets, pumps and other devices have been recalled or use suspended, with quality alternatives frequently not available.

Q: How are you working to improve resiliency in your supply chain, and what advice would you give other ASCs trying to build a resilient chain? 

LJ: The "heir and spare" supply chain strategy is to ensure consistent timeline distribution of essential supplies but maintaining a resource pathway to alternate vendors who make comparable products in case of disruption. An investment in digital automation of procurement and continuing to learn from the Amazons and UPS's regarding just-in-time inventory. Learning from these industries allows for better space management and utilization and more timely financial processing of invoices. I think you will continue to see more aggressive personal accounting-level management and ongoing scrutinization of individual and bundled supplies costs.

Q: How are you working to reduce supply chain costs for your organization?

LJ: We're reducing all out elimination of boutique implants with no real peer-review or differentiation value other than higher costs to the ASC. We're adding greater data analytics by provider regarding costs per individual, time and turnover measurement and room utilization. 

We're also exploring direct-to-employer services for key orthopedic procedures and furthering vendor exclusivity, adopting more aggressive volume vendor agreements. 

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