President of Stryker Sustainability Solutions, Inc., Brian White discussed in an article for DotMed News, that in an era of unprecedented focus on the cost of healthcare, the pressure for hospitals to run more efficiently is at an all-time high. As such, cost-cutting programs such as the reprocessing of single-use medical devices (SUDs) has been identified by Huron Healthcare Consulting Group as having an average potential cost savings opportunity of $175,000-$315,000 annually (dollar figures based on a 350-bed hospital with $365 million net patient revenue).

In addition to that, hospitals can save their funds by hiring various service providers for several processes. For example, they can learn about how to outsource hospital billing software to sort their day-to-day billing works. This may assist them in handling large volumes of patients, transparency in transactions, and enhancing the overall billing experience for patients. Further, different types of software available can help hospital management to shed extra responsibilities and to use their funds judiciously.

Looking at the bigger picture, the cost savings add up quickly. Reprocessing safely saves healthcare systems hundreds of millions of dollars in supply chain expenses and prevents thousands of tons of medical waste from entering landfills every year. The Association of Medical Device Reprocessors (AMDR) estimates that if just two percent of all medical devices labeled “single-use” by the manufacturers could be reprocessed, the healthcare industry would save almost $2 billion every year.

Because the impact of reprocessing can be so significant, it begs the question: why is this valuable cost savings strategy overlooked by some hospitals? Sometimes, lack of education on the science behind reprocessing and the strong safety record of third-party reprocessors may be the reason.

Some hospitals that are reducing supply costs through reprocessing may not be realizing the full cost savings potential of the program. In fact, savings results can vary widely even between the same size hospitals. Here are some tips to help you increase your savings from reprocessing:

Stay educated. Device collection is a critical factor in driving savings results. Hold periodic training sessions to improve clinician awareness of which devices can be reprocessed, and provide frequent reminders to put appropriate devices into the collection bins after use.

Drive staff engagement. Make sure that all involved staff — from environmental services, to supply chain managers, to clinicians – participate in the program and are routinely recognized for significant program achievements. You can also request regular progress reports to promote successful program milestones. This helps staff see the positive impact their actions are having and may reenergize participation.

Expand. Ask your reprocessing rep if there are any newly approved items you could add to your program. The more items you reprocess, the more you’ll save.

Increasing the effectiveness of your reprocessing program and maximizing savings can be an arduous task, but maintaining hospital leadership support is critical. Take some time to review your current processes and challenge your team to take full advantage of the performance-boosting programs that are available. The payoff for your hospital will come in the form of improved operational efficiency and a lower total cost of care.

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