Category: Article

09 Feb 2018

Equipment Planners: How to Maximize Client Collaboration

medical-equipment-planning-maximize-client-collaboration

Third-party equipment planners can be a tremendous asset to hospital systems undergoing construction and renovation. From serving as a trusted resource for key stakeholders to proactively sourcing new and unique equipment alternatives, third-party planners can help hospital systems save money while allowing decision-makers to focus on new business development and hospital utilization. Below are ten ways for third-party equipment planners to maximize client collaboration.

1) Serve as a single point of contact for all equipment matters

A trusted relationship with hospital stakeholders is the cornerstone of a mutually beneficial relationship between a healthcare facility and a third-party planner. Below are some examples of the value that third-party planners can bring by serving as a single point of contact for equipment procurement:

  • They coordinate with multiple stakeholders inside and outside the hospital
  • They arrange periodic planning meetings to review equipment procurement and prioritize needs
  • They maintain regular contact with equipment vendors and servicing companies

2) Schedule equipment demos

Medical equipment is both costly and complicated to operate. Procuring equipment without the opportunity to test its properties can result in expensive purchases that fail to meet the needs of clinical staff. Arranging equipment demos is one of the best ways that third-party planners can ensure that hospitals procure equipment that meets the needs of medical staff. Equipment facilitators lay the foundation for a seamless equipment demonstration by negotiating demo terms with vendors and making sure that the appropriate members of clinical teams are on hand for relevant equipment demos.

3) Stagger equipment deliveries to coincide with facility completion

Scheduling equipment deliveries to occur at just the right moment is a challenging – especially for individuals tasked with opening or renovating a hospital. Third-party equipment planners are accustomed to working with a variety of different equipment vendors and possess the expertise required to properly stagger equipment purchases and delivery. Here are some reasons why the services of a third-party planner are warranted:

  • Equipment planners know that some products such as lights and med-gas should be ordered before other items because installation can be time-consuming
  • To maximize the value of equipment warranties, professional planners avoid ordering capital equipment and supplies too far in advance
  • Professional planners stay abreast of construction progress and make sure equipment arrives after construction is completed and installation can safely occur

 

4) Evaluate equipment for proper agency approvals

The medical equipment industry is changing by the day. While the United States is still the world’s leader in equipment manufacturing, equipment manufactured by companies in China, India, and Brazil is beginning to infiltrate the United States. Unfortunately, not all of these products are FDA-approved. Many foreign-made products are not subject to the same evaluation criteria as American-made products. Third-party planners can sniff out products that lack the proper agency approvals and refrain from purchasing them.

5) Check provider references

Not all equipment providers are created equal. With over 6,500 medical equipment companies in the United States, it is vital to separate the best providers from those who merely have attractive websites. Requesting and checking provider references is one of the best ways to confirm a provider’s legitimacy, scalability, and reputation. Third-party equipment planners have the time and resources to dedicate to this important task.

6) Proactively monitor the medical equipment market for low-cost items

The medical equipment industry is ripe with cost-savings opportunities. However, these opportunities are not always easy to uncover unless you are actively monitoring the market on a daily basis. Due to the nature of their work, equipment facilitators are often on a first-name basis with equipment vendors, owners of auction companies, and manufacturers. They are often among the first to hear about bulk purchasing opportunities, liquidations, and hospital closures that open the door to major cost savings on needed items.

7) Handle removal of outdated equipment

A professional equipment planner can help prevent your hospital storage department from turning into a medical equipment museum. Third-party planners can ensure that broken or malfunctioning equipment is beyond repair and then arrange the proper removal of any unwanted items. Because some medical equipment will be too large to dispose of easily, an equipment planner can make arrangements for one of the following to occur:

  • Donation of broken or unwanted items to companies that specialize in the sale of equipment parts
  • Resale of the equipment to vendors that specialize in equipment repair and servicing
  • The safe and proper disposal of unwanted equipment

 

8) Ensure equipment is properly serviced

Third party planners know that establishing an equipment servicing schedule is a vital part of the procurement process. As they procure equipment, professional planners coordinate with service providers to ensure that a preventive maintenance schedule is created and equipment is regularly inspected and maintained. Completion of this important task is critical for compliance with regulatory agencies and success with external audits.

9) Find cost-effective equipment alternatives

Third-party equipment planners often have valuable industry connections that hospital procurement staff lack. They are able to think outside the box to generate cost-saving ideas and non-traditional options.  For instance, they can introduce hospitals to the following equipment sources:

  • Companies that specialize in professionally refurbished medical equipment
  • Regional medical equipment auctions
  • Equipment opportunities spurred by local hospital closings

 

10) Allow hospital staff to focus on new business and maximizing profits

By facilitating all procurement-related activities, third-party equipment planners allow hospital decision makers and other staff to devote their energies to key priorities such as marketing, staff recruitment, quality improvement programs, and compliance initiatives. The end results are increased profits, greater employee retention, and higher levels of patient satisfaction.

The Bottom Line

Third-party equipment planners have the expertise and resources to ensure that medical equipment procurement is completed in a seamless, cost-effective manner. By establishing and maintaining strong working relationships with key hospital stakeholders, third-party planners can approach procurement using a balanced mix of objectivity and insider knowledge. Additionally, they have connections and industry experience that can help hospitals maximize a thin budget and capitalize on outdated equipment. By enlisting the support of a third-party planner to handle all equipment procurement, your hospital staff can focus on becoming a leading healthcare provider in your area.

09 Feb 2018

Consider the Total Cost of Medical Equipment Ownership When Making Purchasing Decisions

Over the last decade, since the passing of the Affordable Care Act, much attention has been given to lowering healthcare costs while improving the overall quality of care. Hospital administrators and medical practice managers well know just how challenging it is to reach that balance. Americans spent a staggering $3.2 trillion on healthcare in 2016. One key area of medical equipment spending. According to Modern Healthcare, medical supplies and equipment account for the biggest spike in healthcare spending. Hospitals are spending $93 billion per year on medical equipment lifecycle costs. Becker’s CFO Report estimates hospitals are missing savings as much as 12 to 16 percent due to “lack of accurate information, internal resources, bandwidth, and specialized expertise.” That averages out to $12,000 per bed per year! How can your healthcare organization effectively plan for and reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO)? Consider these four tips.

Know What’s Included

First, familiarize yourself with the factors that contribute to TCO and the process of the actual lifecycle.

TCO Lifecycle:

  • Planning
  • Specification
  • Procurement
  • Installation
  • Warranty
  • Operation
  • Deposition

Factors that Affect TCO:

  • Purchase
  • Repairs
  • Maintenance
  • Upgrades
  • Service
  • Support
  • Installation
  • Training

Carefully analyze each of these pieces of the lifecycle and the factors that affect it. For example, what financing options are available? What will I pay in interest? Is it possible to save money by buying a refurbished model? If it’s cheaper to not buy local, what will freight and logistics cost? What preventive maintenance can be done to reduce repair costs? How much staff time will be devoted to training and implementation? What will we save in increased productivity? What about the service contract and warranty? How soon will we possibly have to pay for a repair?

Technology adds a whole new dimension to medical equipment. One study estimates medical practices are spending $32,500 per year per full-time physician to buy, maintain and manage health information technology. Before equipment is purchased, managers must determine how IT will be affected. Will the new equipment work with the current technology? If upgrades are needed, what are those costs? Will staff have to learn a new technology to operate the equipment? How flexible is the equipment to future changes in technology?

Manage Priorities Effectively

Whether you are managing a medical practice or a large healthcare organization, you must delicately balance risk, cost and the benefits. Is the TCO worth the return on investment? Here are five main areas to help you make that decision.

  1. Will it provide better care? This is at the top of the list because providing top care is the biggest priority. Will the new equipment improve patient care or provide better overall outcomes? In addition to the ethical reasons involved, improving care may result in meeting new quality care measures laid out by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, as well as other insurers.
  2. Will it improve efficiency? Technological advances has yielded faster and smarter equipment. Newer equipment is typically more user-friendly, lessening the learning curve for new employees and making it easier to integrate with electronic health records.
  3. Will it bring in revenue? If a piece of equipment allows you to bring certain procedures in-house, a new revenue stream is likely possible. For example, bringing lab equipment in-house not only allows you to treat specific conditions quickly, but it will bring in revenue that you were previously outsourcing.
  4. Will is lower maintenance costs? Constantly paying for repairs is expensive. If you are spending a lot on maintenance, service, and warranty extensions for old equipment, old equipment, it often makes sense to invest in new technology.
  5. Will you attract new patients? Being an early adopter of new technology may attract patients simply because other offices or hospitals don’t have the equipment needed to treat them. Investing in new equipment sends a message that your office is cutting edge and up-to-date on the latest trends and treatments.

Gather Intel

The biggest part of the decision-making process is gathering intel. Gather data from various sources to make the best procurement decision, including clinicians, facilities and construction, IT and telecoms, biomedical engineering, finance, vendors and system integrators. Analyze your current asset base, maintenance history of the old equipment and projected maintenance on the new equipment. Carefully compare product specifications, installation requirements and gather price benchmarking data. Gather a robust database of sources, models, manufacturers, new and used equipment, as well as trade-in options.

It’s critical to have a transparent information pool. While healthcare technology has grown exponentially, many parts of healthcare are not connected. They exist in isolated silos. Numerous healthcare functions are sophisticated and tech-savvy, but they often produce disconnected data streams, rendering decision making impossible. Make a decision by connecting data streams. For example, RFQ capital (supply chain) provides your benchmarking data. Project capital (facilities) provides product specifications. Routine capital (finance) gives insight into your current asset base.  Replacement capital (clinical engineering) gives you data on maintenance history, and project capital (facilitators) provides installation requirements.

Have a Cost-Reducing Strategy

Here are just some of the ways to make TCO work for the entire organization.

  • Equipment standardization has the potential to simplify employee training, minimize errors, reduce maintenance costs and the number of service contracts. Additionally, organizations can stock an inventory of small parts when equipment is standardized. This allows them to make minor repairs in-house.
  • Contract compliance brings the benefits of a robust warranty and service terms, and increased visibility to the “starting” price. Uphold your end of the contract to get the most out of your service.
  • Early decision support gets everyone on board from day one. This reduces the chance that costly adjustments will be needed down the road, and lets you reap the benefits of increased productivity right away in all affected departments.
  • Strategic sourcing results in aggregated purchase savings, controlled procurement timeframes, and automated supplier administration fees.
  • Enterprise Asset Lifecycle Management involves setting priorities by analyzing tangible data, planning for future replacements, making educated purchase decisions, and planning for disposal, reuse or the sale of used equipment.

In order to remain competitive and provide the highest quality care, physicians and healthcare organizations must have a strategy for keeping their equipment up-to-date. Taking into consideration the total cost of ownership, as well as cost saving strategies will help your organization save money, become more productive, attract new patients and possibly find new revenue sources.

03 Jan 2018

8 Best Practices in Equipment Planning During Healthcare System Mergers

equipment planning best practices in a healthcare merger

Healthcare system mergers are on the rise across the United States. There were over 100 hospital mergers announced in 2016, representing a 55% increase since 2010. As the number of mergers continues to grow, procurement managers face a unique set of challenges. In addition to staying abreast of equipment needs, they are tasked with the responsibility of controlling equipment costs and managing a larger collection of equipment vendors.  Below are eight best practices in equipment planning that can help hospitals enjoy a seamless transition to a merged health care system.

1) Schedule a capital equipment audit.

“By using medical equipment historical data and conducting an equipment audit, health facilities professionals can analyze the techniques they are using in their management programs as well as improve efficiency and compliance while decreasing costs.” – Valerie Laktash, CHFM

The first step to take following a healthcare system merger is to organize a comprehensive physical inventory. While online inventory control systems offer efficiency and valuable real-time information, there is no substitute for a physical equipment audit – especially following a merger. During an equipment audit, you should strive to achieve the following:

  • Pinpoint equipment that is offsite or missing from inventory
  • Make a note of equipment that is damaged or malfunctioning
  • Identify needs for new equipment

2) Remove any broken or damaged equipment from inventory.

Everyday life at a healthcare facility can become so chaotic that there is sometimes a disconnect between the staff who use the equipment and the individuals who maintain or purchase the equipment. When equipment fails during a procedure, the top concern for a doctor or nurse is ensuring that patient care is not interrupted. It is not uncommon for a monitor or other problematic piece of equipment to be hurriedly placed in a closet and replaced with an unused monitor from another room. During the physical inventory, all defective equipment should be removed from the floor for evaluation and repair.

3) Identify outstanding equipment needs for each facility and prioritize them.

Conducting an equipment audit often highlights the need for new medical equipment. Because there are often multiple stakeholders who have competing equipment requests, procurement managers and CFOs must carefully examine the costs and benefits of each requested piece of equipment. This can become a challenge when the demand for a $3 million state of the art MRI machine arises. Procurement directors and CFOs often must decide whether to spend half of their equipment budget on one specialty piece of equipment or direct their resources to frequently used equipment such as patient monitors and stretchers.

4) Contact existing equipment vendors to inform them of the merger.

Sometimes healthcare system executives become so preoccupied with internal issues that they neglect to notify vendors and equipment suppliers of the news. As soon as a merger is finalized, key vendors should be notified by a managerial or executive-level official. Below are some key pieces of information to reference when contacting an equipment vendor about a merger:

  • Provide the names of the hospitals or surgery centers that will be involved in the merger
  • Make sure vendors are aware of their key point(s) of contact at your organization
  • Outline the positive ways the merger will impact vendors (increased sales and service opportunities)

5) Bolster efficiency by standardizing equipment planning software.

Introducing a single equipment planning platform is beneficial in multiple respects. In addition to streamlining the healthcare equipment request process, capital equipment budgeting software helps procurement staff track purchases and predict future equipment needs. Equipment planning software also offers robust reporting capabilities and offers a centralized location for all equipment purchasing records.

6) Negotiate discounts with capital equipment vendors.

Mergers create exciting opportunities for procurement managers and capital equipment vendors alike. With capital medical equipment and supplies accounting for roughly 20% of an average hospital’s budget, even a modest discount can yield significant procurement savings for a healthcare system. Capital equipment suppliers can also reap the benefits of a merger. Even after agreeing to an attractive discount, vendors can potentially double or quadruple their sales when facilities merge and new hospitals begin acquiring their equipment.

7) Consider donating or selling any equipment no longer in use.

One of the best ways for merged healthcare systems to optimize their capital equipment budgets is to sell their capital equipment that is no longer in use. Professional medical equipment refurbishing companies are often seeking new sources for used medical equipment that can be professionally refurbished and sold at a reduced rate to hospitals and surgery centers across the globe. This arrangement is a win-win situation for all parties involved.

8) Engage with surgeons and physicians regarding equipment planning.

“In a mature supply chain, you need to have engagement with the physicians, because if you don’t, it’s more dictatorial and more limiting. And they feel, rightly so, that supply chain isn’t advancing their ability to deliver care. If you don’t have engagement, it’s a real struggle.” – Ed Bonetti, Vice President of Supply Chain Services, UMass Memorial Healthcare

Involving surgeons and physicians in the equipment planning process is critical to maintaining continuity of care following a merger. In addition to providing vital information regarding capital equipment needs, surgeons and physicians can offer valuable feedback on equipment functionality and reliability.

The Bottom Line

With healthcare mergers on the rise in the United States, capital equipment planning is more important than ever. Through measures such as equipment audits, software standardization, and physician engagement, equipment planners can help optimize efficiency and control costs. And by following the best practices above, procurement directors and clinical professionals can help ensure that patients continue to receive the highest level of care during and after a merger.

25 Aug 2017

Integrating Information Systems for Facility Asset Management in Healthcare Builds

Integrating Information Systems for Facility Asset Management in Healthcare Builds

By: Jill Worley & Bryan Semple – Topic: Article

Hospital construction is finished. The contractor has handed over the keys. Final clean has been completed and the lights are on. Staff are recruited, trained and ready to receive the first patients. This is an exciting time for your organization, but for Facilities and Clinical Engineering managers and staff, it will be a stressful time as well.

Stressful because much time and money has gone into the project, which now is up to the hospital staff to ensure a seamless transition from project to functioning facility. As Healthcare Technology becomes more central to the efficient, effective and safe running of hospitals, staff become responsible for ensuring this technology is used properly so that the hospital has sufficient medical equipment and that it has been correctly installed. Undoubtedly they have been working hard over the past few months inspecting, testing and calibrating equipment. Click to read the complete article.