Inventory management & other supply chain challenges: 3 Qs with ASC expert Lacey Dyer

Surgical Investors and Advisors' Vice President of Clinical Operations Lacey Dyer, RN, BSN, is an expert in selecting and purchasing equipment, instrumentation and supplies specific to ASCs.

With more 15 years of consulting experience in ASCs, Ms. Dyer shared her insights on inventory management with Becker's ASC Review.

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for style.

Question: What are the most common mistakes ASCs make regarding inventory management?

Lacey Dyer: The most common mistake I see in developing and managing ASCs is not prioritizing the purchase and development of an inventory management system. Waiting too late in the development phase to begin the process of inventory management will set the center up for mistakes and [cost] opportunities for savings. These systems take a significant amount of effort to set up and develop, so it's best to start the process early. Another problem can be standardizing products prior to having multiple products in facilities. When ASCs are starting to open, the mindset can be "just get what the surgeons have used in the hospital," but decision makers need to be more careful in selecting the right equipment because once something is in the facility it is difficult to get it out.

Q: What are the key differences between ASCs and hospitals when it comes to equipment selection and purchasing?

LD: The purchase process and layers to approval are much less in an ASC. The volume and variations of products are also significantly less, so attention to cost has a big impact on the bottom line. In general, ASCs are under mandated spending caps depending on the state and the structure of the organization, which requires the facility to closely monitor all spending. For this reason, new services or equipment purchases are scrutinized on several levels prior to development.

Additionally, owners and physicians are intimately involved at the purchasing level and are considering equipment from companies like Mizuho OSI, which offers specialty surgical equipment that reduces surgeon fatigue and improves postoperative outcomes for patients. Along with this is the multitasking of the facility staff, as many centers have the operating room personnel in charge of purchasing.

Q: How do these differences pose unique challenges?

LD: Communication is key. Reviewing the overall budget from the start and helping the team see the different products, cost and service will reduce frustrations down the road as items are evaluated. Also, ASCs should allow the time for personnel in charge of purchasing to learn their role in the fast-paced ASC environment in order to make the best decisions when it comes to equipment purchasing.

More articles on supply chain:
Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford opens surgical center — 3 insights
3 Ways to cut operating room inventory in an ASC
ASC supply chain tip of the day: Leverage technology

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