inventory is a key element to manag- ing materials.” ASCs can avoid this pitfall by implementing a simple con- cept: Use a supply every day or even once a week and you need to have it on hand in the amount that cases demand. Use it once every two weeks or once a month and you need to have the mini- mum necessary for booked cases. Use it once per quarter and you need to have one or two on hand. Use it once a year and you do not need it in inven- tory, he explains. “The idea of having supplies ‘just

in case’ is an old concept that will drive up the cost of your inventory,” Henderson says. “The supply will often end up expiring, wasting your ASC money.” Using inaccurate preference cards is

Avoid Materials Management Mistakes

Focus on communication and collaboration and catch potential problems early BY ROBERT KURTZ


significant focus on ASC expense management is directed toward labor costs, and rightfully so, consid- ering they are a large piece of a surgery center’s overall spend, says Stepha- nie Martin, CASC, vice president of operations, clinical, for Westchester, Illinois-based ASC management and development company Regent Surgi- cal Health. Unfortunately, this can pull attention away from another area wor- thy of scrutiny. “It is easy to forget that supply costs are a huge piece of the expenditures that go out the door for ASCs,” Mar- tin says. “Administrators may be under the impression that they lack control over these costs because surgeons dic- tate many of the supplies used in the facility, but administrators have greater

influence over supply expenses than they likely realize.” Overlooking the importance of

effective materials management can prove risky, says James Henderson Jr., materials manager of the Outpatient Surgery Center of Jonesboro in Jones- boro, Arkansas. “Without enough or the correct supplies, cases can be can- celled or last longer than necessary, patients could be put at risk and physi- cians would likely be upset. All of this can directly or indirectly lead to addi- tional costs and lost revenue.”

Watch Out for These Key Errors Two of the most significant materi- als management mistakes an ASC can make is maintaining too much inven- tory and not the right inventory, Hen- derson says. “Getting the right-sized


another way ASCs throw away money, Martin says. “I cannot overemphasize the importance of ensuring preference cards are correct and current and that they undergo regular review. We count on our preference cards to tell us what supplies we need for cases.” ASCs often rely on their operating systems to add up the costs of the items on prefer- ence cards to determine what is being spent on supplies for cases. If you do not know exactly how much it costs to do a case, then you cannot confidently say you are financially justified to per- form that case, she emphasizes. Another source of substantial waste is poor management of an ASC’s cus- tom packs, says Martin. “I highly rec- ommend using custom packs, but only if you are reviewing them and ensuring the products in your packs are used. If even half the physicians for whom you open that pack are not using an item in the pack, that item should not be included.” In one instance, a cus- tom pack included a $10 knife that was not used by a high-volume cata- ract surgeon, she recalls. That knife was thrown out every time the pack was opened for this surgeon. “Sim-

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