Maximize Your Healthcare Budget with Strategic Clinical Accessories Purchasing

For hospital health departments, one year often acts as a financial crystal ball for the next—failing to use up available funds by the end of the year risks leading to a decrease in funding for the following annual budget. 

Smart clinical accessories purchasing offers an avenue of mitigation. Big-ticket items tend to eat up a large portion of the average healthcare budget fairly quickly, but the end of the year often presents an opportunity to get the smaller-scale supplies that departments need for the year ahead to keep hospital facilities operating efficiently. 

Expand Virtual Healthcare Abilities 

The COVID-19 pandemic fast-tracked the adoption of virtual healthcare, and by this point the technology shows no signs of slowing down. As virtual visits offer patients more avenues to healthcare services that cater to personal convenience and ease of access, clinicians will continue to find ways to translate the same tasks they perform during in-person visits into a virtual context. For instance, remote patient monitoring (RPM) can allow clinicians to monitor patients' vital signs outside of a healthcare setting. 

In the midst of the pandemic, expanded Medicare reimbursement helped make RPM a viable option for enrollees and fueled increases in the use of RPM. Between February 2020 and September 2021, monthly remote patient monitoring claims increased from 91 to 594 per 100,000 enrollees. During this period, the most common indication for remote monitoring was hypertension. Blood pressure cuffs are one of the most common RPM accessories alongside pulse oximeters, which are commonly used to monitor patients with chronic conditions such as COPD or congestive heart failure. 

Expanding virtual care offerings helps reduce disparities for patients in rural areas who may be otherwise unable to reach specialists. Particularly for patients with chronic conditions that require constant monitoring, being cut off from access to care can put their long-term health at risk. By increasing virtual care services, rural patients have to take fewer journeys to visit specialists. Healthcare organizations can develop partnerships with telehealth companies that specialize in providing virtual care services for patient populations with diverse needs. 

Prioritize Sustainable Efforts 

The healthcare industry is one of the largest contributors of waste in the United States. Hospitals produce nearly 5 million tons of waste each year, and the COVID-19 pandemic significantly increased that amount due to the reliance on single-use supplies. While single-use clinical accessories often offer a safer and more affordable option for healthcare organizations, they are more likely to have a negative impact on the environment as chemicals, pathogens, and toxins from the accessories leach into the soil and water. 

Reusable accessories' environmental benefit comes from their higher quality and durability through several uses. Even as reusable accessories often come with a larger up-front cost than disposable accessories, they don't require replacement or reordering nearly as frequently—an aspect of the devices that also play well into efforts to improve hospital sustainability. 

Adjust Healthcare Budgets for Economic Fluctuations 

Inflation has impacted nearly every aspect of the economy, and healthcare is no exception. Not only does it cost more to purchase supplies, but many hospital budgets are stretched increasingly thin due to staffing issues. A workforce data analysis conducted by Premier Inc. found that the healthcare industry's labor shortage has increased daily clinical labor costs by an average of 8%, adding $24 billion in nationwide annual spending. That means the average 500-bed healthcare facility can expect to add $17 million to its annual labor budget. 

Healthcare organizations can adjust to these rising costs by implementing a budget-based model that schedules staff on budget. The downside of this model, however, is that it doesn't account for variables in patient loads. Hospitals can also work to reduce costs by purchasing clinical accessories in bulk or negotiating their contracts with vendors. Facilities may similarly benefit from joining group purchasing organizations (GPOs) that help reduce supply-related purchasing costs. GPOs can assist healthcare organizations in reducing administrative costs and offer up-front pricing discounts. They also leverage the power of joint negotiations; GPOs often have their own networks of consultants and experts who can help them find suppliers. 

Focus on High-Quality Accessories 

The quality of clinical accessories can have a significant impact on patient care, but it can also affect costs. Low-quality accessories will need to be replaced more frequently; one way organizations can avoid long-term overspending is by buying the highest-quality accessories. 

One way materials managers can ensure they are getting high-quality supplies is to buy directly from an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) as opposed to buying from aftermarket suppliers. OEM accessories are made by the same teams that build the base equipment, allowing the two to work in tandem for peak performance. GE Healthcare is one of the largest medical device OEMs in the world, providing accessories that enhance the functions of high-grade medical equipment for better accuracy, efficiency, and patient health outcomes. 

By factoring OEM accessories into the end-of-year healthcare budget, materials managers can help ensure that their department's funds encapsulate the widest possible range of patient needs. OEMs may represent a significant initial investment, but they can save money down the line. Additionally, OEMs manufacture accessories for all of their products for as long as they remain on the market—and potentially even for several years after the product is discontinued. 

For materials managers looking to maximize their departmental end-of-year budgets, clinical accessories represent an essential part of strategic purchasing. These devices are a small but mighty element within healthcare operations alongside comparatively big-ticket equipment; strategic accessories purchasing can save facilities thousands of dollars while also supporting quality patient care.