Medical/Surgical Supplies and Physician Preference Items – Strategies to Improve Your Program

Pilla, Lori business shotBy Lori Pilla, Vice President, Clinical Advantage and Supply Chain Optimization, Intalere

With reimbursement and service line margins shrinking, supply chain managers need proven strategies to cut supply costs, especially in the area of medical surgical supplies, without affecting the quality of care. Nearly half of all med surg supplies used are in the area of physician preference items (PPIs), including devices and implants. PPI costs are growing by 10 percent annually.

What is fueling this growth? Currently, more than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day and will make up nearly 20 percent of the population in 2030. This explosive growth in the U.S. aging population is having the same effect on orthopedic procedures, which is expected to grow by 13 percent over the next 10 years. Check out this infographic to get more information.

With this in mind, it is important to have a strategy in place to deal with PPI. What are some things that your strategy should include?

Develop a Value Analysis Team and Process – To be successful, facilities must develop value analysis processes and stringent financial review of new procedures and device adoption as part of their standard processes and policies. Projects will impact all levels of the organization, from leadership to physicians, surgeons, nurses and materials managers. They should all be involved.

Make Sure Leadership and Physicians “Buy In” – The involvement of senior leadership assists in maintaining momentum on projects and highlights the significance of them to facility employees. Senior leadership must be willing to support the process, stay with it through difficult moments and see it through to completion. It is imperative that the facilities’ physicians be engaged in the process from the outset as well, so they understand the objectives and feel engaged from the start.

Data Rules – Good data, especially relative to cost and outcomes, provides the facts and evidence needed to communicate the realities facing every stakeholder, both internally and externally. It can help drive standardization discussion and other areas to streamline procedures.

A good program, starting with these basics, will provide enhancement in clinical outcomes and quality through standardization and consistency between procedures. The impact is felt at each level as a less-is-more approach increases efficiency and decreases errors.

To learn more about how to develop a PPI program, listen to this podcast , or contact me at

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