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Designate staff, prepare preference cards
As reimbursement levels fall, same-day surgery managers are faced with the task of improving profit levels. Because increasing volume can increase profits, managers often look at increasing the number of cases that can be handled within the workday.
"Same-day surgery programs can’t just add a third shift to increase the number of cases that can be performed, so managers have to find other ways to improve efficiency and productivity," says F. Craig Veach, associate vice president for Source Medical Solutions, a health care software company based in Birmingham, AL. One way to become more efficient and to improve the bottom line is to handle inventory control and purchasing in a better way, he suggests.
By computerizing your inventory and integrating it with your scheduling and billing systems, you can improve your efficiency and enjoy a cost-savings, Veach says. "Same-day surgery staff members tend to overstock, but a computerized inventory system with a perpetual inventory means that you know what you have on a day-to-day basis and can order every other day rather than weekly or biweekly," he says. The ability to order more frequently without having to do a manual inventory means that less stock is kept on hand, and this situation improves cash flow, he adds. For example, a same-day surgery center that spends $1.2 million each year on supplies when ordering on a weekly basis, can order every other day and reduce spending to $700,000, Veach says.
A good inventory system will utilize preference cards as a way of tracking supplies that are used and also will monitor your stock and alert you when a supply falls below your preset par level, Veach says. The system should help you identify supplies that are not used so you can evaluate whether you should continue stocking them, he adds.
When you have seven operating rooms and three procedure rooms in a freestanding multispecialty same-day surgery program, inventory control can be overwhelming, says Terri Gatton, RN, CNOR, administrator of the Zanesville (OH) Surgery Center. While many managers may cringe at the thought of developing preference cards to integrate with the inventory and scheduling systems, the effort is worthwhile, Gatton says.
Her facility is only three years old, so developing the preference cards was part of the start-up, she explains. "I have gone through a conversion from a system that did not use preference cards to one that did, and I still recommend that preference cards be developed to ensure the best use of the inventory system," she adds.
Although Gatton chose to develop preference cards for all 40 surgeons and their procedures, Veach suggests that same-day surgery managers who are converting to a computerized system consider producing preference cards for their highest volume procedures. "Because 20% of your cases produce 80% of your revenue, focus your efforts on them," he says. Other cases such as eye procedures may require a generic procedure cards that can be edited as needed, he adds.
Another timesaver for same-day surgery programs that are starting up a new system can come from your vendors, says Veach. Most vendors can supply you with a downloadable supply and equipment list so you don’t have to enter all the information, he explains.
Gatton knew what features she was looking for in a system, but she says that the key to successfully using your inventory system is to have a dedicated materials management coordinator. "Don’t expect a staff member to assume these responsibilities on top of other jobs," she says. By having one person who manages the inventory, purchasing, and receiving, you can keep a close control on your inventory, she says. Quarterly manual inventory counts that are done to double-check the inventory show that the computerized system is usually within $2,000 of the actual count, Gatton adds.
The materials management person doesn’t have to be a clinical person, but Gatton has found that there are advantages if you find a nurse to handle the position, as she has. "Not only does she understand medications and recognize inconsistencies, but she can also filter out vendor representatives who want to see me," she says.
For more information about computerized inventory systems, contact:
• F. Craig Veach, Associate Vice President, Source Medical Solutions, Two N. Plains Industrial Road, Wallingford, CT 06492-2381. Telephone: (800) 562-7069, ext. 503 or (203) 949-6290, ext. 503. E-mail: Craig.Veach@sourcemed.net.
• Terri Gatton RN, CNOR, Administrator, Zanesville Surgery Center, 2907 Bell St., Zanesville, OH 43701. Telephone: (740) 452-5145. Fax: (740) 454-7748. E-mail: email@example.com.
For more information about computerized inventory systems specific to same-day surgery, contact:
• Camberley Systems, 175 Highland Ave., Third Floor, Needham, MA 02494. Telephone: (800) 886-4325 or (781) 444-1424. Fax: (781) 444-2805. Web: www.camberley.com. Camberley Systems offers SurgeOn, a software package designed for same-day surgery programs that includes scheduling, billing, managing materials, report writing, and variance reporting. Prices vary according to number of users and specific services included in software package.
• Source Medical Solutions, 100 Grandview Place, Suite 400, Birmingham, AL 35243. Tele-phone: (205) 972-1222. Fax: (205) 968-6161. Web: www.sourcemed.net. In 2002, Source Medical Solutions merged with Wallingford, CT-based HealthIS, and it now offers SurgiSource. SurgiSource’s features include OR scheduling, preference card management, materials management, medical record and surgical note integration, and billing and accounts receivables. A typical system for a surgery program that has five users is $26,000 for software, project management, and training, and $20,000 for hardware.