The top supply chain challenges ASCs are facing today — 5 Qs with an expert

Michael Einhorn, president of Dealmed, an independent medical supplier, shared his insights on the top ASC supply chain challenges and trends to know.

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: What supply chain challenges do you see ASCs facing now?

Michael Einhorn: Drug shortages and backorders, particularly with injectable drugs, is a significant issue and is not talked about enough. Almost every ASC is facing this issue and this is a critical problem on the national level.

Q: What supply chain technology do you see ASCs using?

ME: We have seen ASCs attempt to adapt various software solutions for better managing inventory and supply spend. Frankly most implementations have been a moderate success at best. We still see a need for a good solution to this. What we do see is ASCs becoming more reliant on just in time delivery services and requesting access to view real time inventory with their suppliers.

Q: How can ASCs most effectively address supply chain costs accrued by physician preference items?

ME: The best option for this is to try to bundle as many products with a single manufacturer and negotiate a local contract either through a distributor or if the product is sold direct, directly with the manufacturer. By bundling and showing a commitment to a particular brand or group of brands, most manufacturers will write extremely competitive contracts which are usually a lot more cost effective then a group purchasing organization contract.

Q: What are the top supply chain trends you think ASCs should know about?

ME: Same day delivery and early morning delivery (as early as 6:00 a.m.) are becoming very popular, especially in large cities such as New York City and Philadelphia. This reduces the expenditures and cash flow for ASCs. We are also seeing a lot more collaboration between manufacturers and distributors who are now often writing contracts superior to those then GPOs, We also see tariffs becoming an issue and anticipate that they will increase costs late in the third and fourth quarters of this year.

Q: What tips would you give to ASCs looking to improve their supply chain operations?

1. Create a formulary of products for your ASC and only allow items approved by stakeholders to be added to the formulary to be ordered. Furthermore, ensure that items on the formulary have all been negotiated with suppliers and pricing is guaranteed for a reasonable period of time.

2. Utilize just on time delivery to reduce cash flow burdens and storage space issues.

3. Create a list of all drugs and injectables and pre-plan alternatives for each product. In the event of a shortage, you will already have established a list of alternatives with pre-negotiated prices, eliminating expensive, unplanned emergency purchases.

4. Many drugs and injectables are returnable after the expiration date for a credit. The credit amount depends on the product. But as soon as it expires, call your distributor to see if the item is eligible for a credit.

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