How to trim hospital equipment costs

With new equipment crucial to high-quality care, hospitals need to find ways to trim equipment replacement budgets, Hospitals & Health Networks Daily reported. The challenge is purchasing just enough equipment and technology to meet clinical needs.

But hospitals can take several steps to avoid wasting millions of dollars on unnecessary equipment purchases, including:

1. Conducting inventory

Each year, use a fact-based analysis to observe the state of existing equipment, whether through real-time technology or a physical inventory. By doing so, a health system might discover 15 percent more assets, H&HN Daily noted. Taking an inventory showed one health system that equipment did not need replacing, leading to $84 million in reallocated funds.

Inventory also can uncover reprocessing opportunities. Reprocessing single-use clinical devices can improve costs by 15 percent to 40 percent, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

2. Segmenting replacement plan

A hospital's equipment replacement plan shouldn't focus on equipment cost as a whole. Break it down into segments, such as highest-cost equipment or high-priority equipment, according to H&HN Daily, which noted a hospital that touts it cardiac program would put heart monitors and defibrillators in a high-priority segment.

A low-priority segment could include floor disinfectant and surgical shoe covers, which don't actually reduce the rate of infection so hospitals don't need to buy them, according to Richard Kunnes, M.D., CEO of the Sevenex Group, who spoke at Becker's Hospital Review's annual meeting in Chicago last month.

3. Understanding workflow

Hospitals must examine workflow--equipment status and use--to discover areas of excess capacity or limited capability. Improving workflow to 65 percent utilization can significantly lower a health system's capital and operating expenses, H&HN Daily noted.

For example, a system can improve utilization of nonclinical supplies by examining weekly linen utilization, a step that can lead to a 5 percent to 20 percent improvement in linen costs, FierceHealthcare noted.

4. Keeping equipment safe

In addition to monitoring status and use, hospitals must ensure their equipment is safe. Earlier this month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration called on healthcare facilities to introduce controls that would guard against cyber-attacks on medical equipment and devices, FierceHealthIT reported.

The FDA recommended healthcare facilities restrict unauthorized access to networks and medical devices and create strategies for maintaining functionality during adverse events.

For more:
- here's the H&HN Daily article