10 Ways Surgery Centers Can Use Technology to Drive Their Supply Chain Strategy

Erica Johnson, National Director, ASC, Intalere

By Erika Johnson, National Director, ASC, Intalere

From the apparent to the less obvious, what are 10 ways information technology (IT) can help an ASC or outpatient facility/department improve its supply chain operations?

Most simply, software, through even a basic materials management information system (MMIS), can provide benchmarks and goals for organizations to use to reduce extreme variability in pricing in both commodities and implants. Data derived from an MMIS can also assist in:

  • Aggregation – Systems can collect the proper data to aggregate spend across multiple facilities. Today, many work in silos and aren’t leveraging their buying power.
  • Tier Optimization – An IT platform provides the data to assist facilities in optimizing tiers and adjusting spending to achieve the higher, more cost-effective tier levels.
  • Purchase Orders – Today, many organizations have multiple POs from possibly hundreds of vendors at each site. With an IT platform, facilities can assure POs are pulled in one system and paid more efficiently and correctly.
  • Formulary Purchasing – Many facilities don’t have a purchasing manager, therefore, there are many people ordering. With an IT platform, a formulary can be built and pre-approved to ensure purchases are contract-driven. This can also minimize off-contract or rogue spending.
  • Contract Compliance Purchasing – An IT platform will help drive contract compliance, which will lead to better vendor relationships and offer better negotiation leverage with those vendors.
  • Comparable Items – An MMIS system can also provide alternatives, clinically equivalent comparables that can possibly be purchased at a better price. This will drive better purchasing decisions and savings.
  • Paying the Right Price – Just because you placed an order for an item at a given price doesn’t mean you will be invoiced for that price. MMIS can ensure a 3-way match so that you realize the savings you’re projecting on the front end.
  • Supplier Segmentation – Data/Tech can help you visualize and know where the majority of your spend goes, and therefore, suppliers are more important or strategic to your objectives. Data can help you make strategic choices around which suppliers and products truly need to be managed.
  • Using data to educate physicians is an indispensable asset. Data offering perspective in terms of both cost and outcomes factually illustrates to physicians, and all stakeholders for that matter, the challenges at hand. This can assist in developing physician champions and identifying outliers that drive peer discussions. Data displaying surgeon, cost per case with implants and supplies allow visibility to illustrate how switching preference items will affect not only costs, but also whether it affects patient outcomes.

Something we’re hearing more often from members is lack of systems’ interoperability. Those who are maybe ahead of the curve and have initiated some sort of automation or technology solution are finding, in some cases, that systems are not able to communicate with each other, causing new challenges they had not anticipated. So, in automating and hoping to take steps forward in becoming more strategic about supply chain, they have actually been faced with new challenges. Make sure any systems you are reviewing offer the ability to integrate easily with any other systems you may have or obtain.

Ultimately, all stakeholders are driving towards improved patient outcomes, cost savings and safety through integrated systems to reduce errors and streamline procurement via automation. By considering the above points in researching and implementing your systems, you can make sure you are maximizing their benefit to your organization and its patients.

We can help. Intalere provides resources that can assist in every aspect of your supply chain operations and many other areas of your healthcare facility. Check out our Financial Solutions for Surgery Centers Webinar Series, highlighting resources and proven solutions in areas including automation, strategic procurement, physician preference items and commercial payment solutions.

These sessions include Transforming the Healthcare Supply Chain Through Strategic Procurement and Inventory Management  featuring Jacque Grant, Sr. Account Executive for Intalere partner Hybrent, discussing software solutions designed specifically to help you control costs and increase revenue by combining multi-vendor purchasing, inventory management and invoice management into a single application, ensuring all workflows are optimized.

Contact Intalere Customer Service at 877-711-5600 or customerservice@intalere.com to learn more.

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