Ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) have been opening across the country for decades, providing outpatient surgical procedures at lower costs than the acute care setting. Many ASCs are focused on a single specialty, such as neurology, orthopedics or plastic surgery. The equipment purchases for these facilities are often tailored to the clinicians that perform these specialized services.
Buying capital equipment for ASCs can be expensive and time-consuming and poses unique challenges from the acute care setting. In this blog post, I’ll outline some of the challenges materials manager, purchasing managers and facility directors face and share how careful planning, research and negotiation can help.
Understand the clinical need
Like many of us, surgeons have a way in which they feel comfortable working, which breeds confidence and productivity for the surgeon and better outcomes for patients.
Avoid potential overspending by reviewing the organization’s purchasing strategy as it pertains to standardization. Then review surgeons’ preference cards and understanding the types of cases they perform. Discuss equipment model and vendor preferences with the physician assistant or the surgical first assistant. Surgeons will become more comfortable with the purchase when they know you have done the clinical due diligence as well as the cost analysis. At ASCs where surgeons have a voice on the governing board, understanding the clinical need for equipment is critical for a smooth purchase.
Select a supplier
You’ve established credibility to the surgeon and staff and done your homework on what procedures are going to be performed in the operating room. Now it’s time to decide which supplier is right for you.
Since every ASC is different and each surgeon has unique preferences, working with your supplier to ensure your facility is outfitted properly is crucial. Many suppliers have the ability to create a 3D rendering of a typical operating space layout. Ask your supplier to develop a rendering of your space and present the solution to you and your clinical team.
Create a report to track and determine maintenance requirements as well as potential change orders for installation with the supplier’s sales representative as this individual will work with you throughout the life cycle of the equipment. Make sure the sales representative understands that the conduit to the surgeon is through you. In an effort to upsell surgeons, sales representatives will sometimes give a “keeping up with surgeon across the street” sales pitch, which often is very effective. Establishing a firm set of communication guidelines will help prevent change orders, price quote changes and unexpected costs.
Negotiate installation and service fees
You’ve worked hand-in-hand with both your general contractor and facility manager. Next, you need to work with your supplier to establish how the equipment is going to be installed and serviced. As you evaluate equipment and receive quotes, ensure that the supplier you choose offers the following: service, installation services, and a negotiable deposit or finance option.
Many suppliers will try to charge extra fees for installation and service. However, you can negotiate this fee prior to awarding a supplier your business. If you engage a supplier early and let them know you plan to use the company for service needs, the supplier will see this as year-over-year income and often eliminate the deposit requirement.
Establishing a strong relationship with the supplier also puts the onus on the them to ensure your equipment is functional throughout its life cycle. This is crucial to maximize equipment availability and avoid disruption in the operating room schedule.
Support for your equipment purchase decisions
It’s vital to be smart and informed every step of the way during the construction or modification of your ASC. If not well-managed, your ASC project can easily run over time and over budget.
For more information on how Vizient can help you make sound equipment purchases [add hyperlink to web page] or contact [name/email]
About the author. Danny Cisneros is a senior portfolio executive on Vizient’s capital construction and facilities team and offers expertise in capital surgical equipment for the operation room.