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look at the purchase from a narrow viewpoint and miss the big picture.”

Changing Equipment

How and when to make the switch BY ROBERT KURTZ


SCs have many reasons for replacing one piece of equip- ment with another. Some are under the ASC’s control, but others are not. Careful planning and the five tips that follow can help ensure that an ASC is buying wisely and help make the changes involved easier for everyone. “Technologies constantly evolve as

do regulations,” says Scott Blair, direc- tor of medical equipment planning for Surgery Center Services of America, an ASC management and development company in Mesa, Arizona. “Over- night, the US Food and Drug Admin- istration (FDA) can stop the use of a particular device. Manufacturers can discontinue a product or they might unexpectedly go bankrupt.” Cathy Marlow, RN, materials man-

ager for The Surgical Institute of Mon- roe in Monroe, Michigan, says her ASC is most likely to make a change when it finds a quality product similar to what the ASC is already using that also offers savings or improved technology.

Introducing new equipment is chal- lenging, says Sherrie Landry, materi- als manager for Bayou Region Surgical Center in Thibodaux, Louisiana. “Even when I try to just change a mask or gown, I know I will not be able to please everybody. You have to always do what is best for the center.”

In addition to the steps discussed in “Capital Purchases” on page 15, the three suggest the following five techniques. 1. Make it a team effort by involving multiple staff members in the pro- cess. “There is not just one person with all of the answers,” Blair says. “Surgeons, despite being experts at using their equipment, often can- not describe it in detail or tell you the name or model that they are currently using. Scrub techs usually know more about equipment reli- ability or functionality. Nursing staff bring their own perspective. If you do not have a team effort focusing on the budget, comparing different products and taking other important factors into consideration, you may

2. Spend more time on larger pur- chases. Cautioning ASCs never to rush equipment purchases, Blair ad- vises committing more resources to examining substantial investments. “You never want to spend more than necessary. If you occasionally buy a drill that costs $26,000 over one that is $18,000 to keep a physician hap- py, amortized over seven years, that price difference is not very signifi- cant,” he says. “But if you are con- sidering upgrading from a $50,000 microscope to a $200,000 micro- scope, you should slow the process down so you do not miss opportuni- ties for significant discounts.”

3. Keep emotions in check. When there is debate over a purchase, emo- tions may run high. “When there is the risk of this happening, walk away and make the decision another day,” Blair says. “If you cannot control what you are thinking, you are more likely to get taken advantage of or make a decision you will regret.”

4. Educate staff on use. Once a piece of equipment is purchased, make sure staff members have the oppor- tunity to get comfortable with it be- fore they use the equipment during a case, Landry advises. “We train the staff on how to use new equipment through in-services. If possible, we will bring in company representa- tives to help with training.”

5. Know when not to make a change. While it is worthwhile to research equipment options that might bring about an improvement, conducting this review does not necessitate mak- ing a change, Marlow says. “Some- times the pricing of equipment we consider purchasing is not where we would like it to be. Usually if the com- pany wants your business, it will offer a price that works for you. If not, then we will stay with what we have that we know already works for us.”


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