Reduce Supply Costs in Your Independent ASC Use this five-step approach BY DAREN SMITH

In many independent and small ASCs, in an effort to keep staffing costs low, members of the ASC team with clinical backgrounds

are tasked with managing supply orders and inventory. An experienced, dedicated materials manager is never hired. With a lack of materials man- agement experience, however, clinical staff members put in charge of mate- rials can be challenged with develop- ing and using effective purchasing pro- cesses. The result can easily be wasted money and time.

Since materials represent the second

highest expense for most ASCs, trailing staffing costs, the money and time lost due to poor materials management can add up quickly. On a positive note, this also means even small improvements to a poorly run materials program can lead to significant savings. During my session, “Reduce Sup-

ply Costs in Your Independent ASC” at ASCA 2017, May 3–6, in Washing- ton, DC, I will discuss five key areas for setting up a successful materials program in an independent and small ASC: 1) staffing, 2) pricing, 3) distri- bution, 4) shipping and 5) monitoring and management. In my discussion of staffing, I will

explain what is needed for staff to suc- cessfully perform ASC materials man- agement. It is critical to ensure you are allocating enough time for staff mem- bers assigned to materials to do their job. I will share guidelines concerning the variables that an ASC must con- sider to determine how much staff time is needed for a quality materials man- agement program. For pricing, ASCs need the abil- ity to determine whether they are pay- ing appropriate prices. Typically, ASCs


Since materials represent the second highest expense for most ASCs, trailing staffing costs, the money and time lost due to poor materials management can add up quickly.”

— Daren Smith, RN AmkaiSolutions

spend a significant amount of time, effort and expense negotiating materi- als prices and contracts. Once that pro- cess is complete, however, there is often little time spent checking to ensure that the ASC is then billed appropriately for its materials. I will discuss effective processes for purchasing that can pro- vide a helpful, insightful auditing trail. I also will explain the value of working with a group purchasing organization (GPO), how to maximize that effort and how to make the GPO work for you. Regarding distribution, I will focus

on ways ASCs can more effectively work with their distributors. This will include discussions of how to spend the time managing distributions, ways

to talk to distributors about supply delivery and what you can do to secure and maximize discounts. Shipping might seem like a less sig-

nificant topic compared to the others I will discuss, but these costs often get overlooked when an ASC is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on supplies in a year. When this omission occurs, shipping can make up a much larger percentage of materials costs than is necessary or desirable. I will show attendees ways to reduce shipping costs and explain different approaches to avoiding high shipping expenses. In my discussion of monitoring and management, I will explain what is necessary to achieve this critical com- ponent of a successful materials man- agement program. I will share steps attendees can take and reports they can use to show their materials managers how to manage supplies and ensure they are not over- or under-ordering items. I will show attendees how to monitor the activity of the materials manager(s) and how to monitor the program itself so the ASC meets essen- tial benchmarks. I will discuss how to benchmark materials management and make sure objectives associated with staffing, pricing, distribution and ship- ping are achieved. I will encourage everyone who

attends this session to ask questions about their own materials manage- ment program—questions that will hopefully lead to process develop- ment and improvement and, ulti- mately, better purchasing decisions and cost savings.

Daren Smith, RN, is a senior clinical solutions specialist for AmkaiSolutions, a subsidiary of Surgical Information Systems. Write him at

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