Hospitals play an essential role in modern life. We are born, cared for, and, in many cases, die in hospitals: without doubt, many of us take them for granted. The prospect of an America, or, worse, an entire world, without these indispensable facilities is unthinkable.
We are told again and again of the health-care industry's financial woes, but do we really give the topic the attention it deserves?
Of the vast number of dollars invested into the United States health-care system each year, around $750 billion goes to hospitals. Despite this, hospitals are facing cuts and financial strains across the country, which has a massive impact not just on doctors, nurses, and other employees, but also on us – the patients.
Hospitals must save money wherever possible, but reducing the number of staff, limiting facilities, and ultimately offering patients less for their rising insurance payments, only serves to make the situation worse. In order to stretch funds further, and to make investments more effective, hospitals need to explore all the cost-cutting possibilities available to them.
One major area of investment is equipment: the huge amount of medical supplies used in hospitals on a daily basis means finding cost-effective solutions can help to reduce spending.
So, what can hospitals do to save on their equipment expenditures?
1: Share and Share Alike
As the internet has revolutionized the world of business with its capacity for innovative time-saving solutions, hospitals now can use online platforms to cut costs on their equipment expenditures.
A recent Boston-based startup, Cohealo, is encouraging hospitals to share supplies between themselves. Using a simple online platform, Cohealo enables hospitals to catalog and organize their inventory of equipment, providing staff with the power to order supplies from hospitals in their network with a quick tap.
Cohealo's third-party logistics arrangements ensure equipment is packed, transported, and calibrated by experienced professionals. Based on the early stages of using Cohealo, hospitals could expect to save up to as much as $5 to 7 million.
2: Use Third-party Vendors on Equipment Repairs
When equipment begins to show signs of malfunction, hospitals are likely to contact the original manufacturer to conduct repairs. However, working with third-party specialists is much more cost-effective, due to the lower prices these groups are likely to charge.
3: Buy Refurbished Equipment Instead of Brand New Models
Used medical equipment is a cost-effective solution for hospitals searching for ways to cut spends. While the prospect of second-hand supplies may sound like a cheap way of acquiring equipment at first, buying refurbished supplies from a reliable, experienced company is an effective way to save money.
Many different items are available, such as a refurbished endoscope selection, which are calibrated to meet, or exceed, the original manufacturer's specifications. In the case of a used endoscope, for example, a company is likely to perform strict testing to ensure the piece of equipment functions exactly as needed.
With used equipment, hospitals can make their money go farther, getting more for their investment. Another benefit is that staff can continue to use specific models of equipment that may have since ceased production: this reduces the time and resources needed to train doctors and nurses on new features, keeping their focus on treatment.
4: Repair Equipment Instead of Replacing
Hospitals may order new equipment when current models stop working as they should, simply discarding items that may well still perform as needed with a few tweaks.
Repairing medical equipment, rather than paying high rates for brand new, possibly updated models is a much more cost-effective solution. Reputable repair companies will work hard to return items to their original quality.
Companies selling repaired and refurbished equipment can help hospitals direct funds into other areas.
5: Avoid Buying the Cheapest Equipment
The phrase “you get what you pay for” is both a cliche and often inaccurate: price does not always reflect quality. However, with regards to buying medical equipment, hospitals should avoid cutting corners and choosing the cheapest model available.
Opting for a market-cheapest item from a company with either very little standing or a poor reputation can lead hospitals to having low-quality equipment on their wards. With questionable equipment to hand, the reliability of items, and the safety of both staff and customers, may be threatened.
While hospitals should not feel pressured to buy the most expensive equipment available, from the biggest brands, they should be willing to spend money on good-quality items: buying the cheapest may well be a false economy. Companies supplying refurbished equipment are likely to offer decent prices without sacrificing the items' quality.
If hospitals are to save money and make investments reach farther, more funds will be freed-up to extend into additional areas of health-care. Ultimately, when hospitals begin to struggle with funding, resources will become restricted, and patients will suffer.
Reducing hospitals' equipment expenditure is an effective way to cut spending overall, and is giving hospitals the motivation to discover new solutions.
Kyle McManus is a freelance writer based in the UK. This article was prepared on behalf of Pro Scope Systems.