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an ASC, so you want the equipment to capture those new procedures coming into your facility.” Failing to take the time necessary to

make the appropriate capital purchase could lead to undesirable results, such as purchasing incompatible or outdated products, says Kathleen Cornwall, ASC manager for Auburn, Maine-based Central Maine Orthopaedics, a division of Spectrum Medical Group. “You will likely spend a lot more

Capital Purchases

Research, analyze and compare before you buy BY ROBERT KURTZ


capital purchase mistake can have a significant financial impact on

an ASC, says Jennifer Butterfield, RN, CASC, administrator of Lakes Sur- gery Center in West Bloomfield, Mich- igan. “Unfortunately, we do not have very deep pockets. If you are going to be taking on the burden of a large pur- chase and, with it, a large monthly pay- ment, you need to have the cases to justify and then support that payment.” “With the financial situation the

way it is, ASCs have to be careful with every dollar they spend, says Anthonia Schmidt, RN, administrator of Sum- mit Surgical Center in Voorhees, New Jersey. “You certainly do not want to spend money on equipment that will not give you a return on investment.” At the same time, the reasons that

ASCs need to make wise decisions about capital purchases go beyond the financial implications of those decisions, Schmidt says. “You want to make sure you are bringing in the

Physicians frequently request new pieces of equipment. It is important to determine the value of a potential capital purchase before moving forward.”

— Ellen Wziontka, Ambulatory Surgical Centers of America

correct products to keep your medical staff happy with the ASC. It is impor- tant to remember that your physicians can work anywhere they want, so they need to have the equipment they feel is important to delivering great care.” Summit Surgical Center has made a number of recent capital purchases, including new cataract equipment and navigational equipment for sinus surgery. “We also need to keep up with

technology,” Schmidt adds. “More and more procedures can be performed in

money than you need to,” adds Ellen Wziontka, corporate materials man- ager of ASC management and devel- opment company Ambulatory Surgical Centers of America, based in Hanover, Massachusetts. “You also do not want to purchase a piece of equipment that includes features you will never use or does not have the capabilities your ASC actually needs.”

Determine Value Occasionally, for example when broken equipment needs to be replaced, ASCs have no choice but to make a capital purchase. In instances when the need is not as apparent, however, ASCs should assess whether a capital purchase is jus- tified, Wziontka says. “Physicians fre- quently request new pieces of equip- ment. It is important to determine the value of a potential capital purchase before moving forward.” If physicians say a new piece of equipment will allow them to bring more cases to the ASC, Wziontka rec- ommends performing a historical case analysis to determine whether there are likely to be enough cases to deliver a return on the investment. “Physi- cians also have to be very committed to bringing those cases to justify these pieces of equipment,” she emphasizes. Butterfield’s ASC recently upgraded all of its ophthalmology equipment. “We look at some capital purchases as a way to market our center as having the latest and greatest in technology. We may be able to use this as leverage to help attract


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