If you peer into the back of the supply closet of most private practices, you’ll find a stash of rarely used medical supplies. Maybe your staff ordered more tongue dispensers than you could need in a lifetime, or an “amazing new product” didn’t turn out to be so amazing after all.
Making poor supply choices not only hurts your bottom line, but it can also affect patient satisfaction—for example, if you run out of an important patient comfort product, it can negatively impact the patient experience. Keep the tips below in mind when you decide which products to keep or remove from your practice.
1. Review Your Purchases
Review your purchases at least every six months and look for items you can eliminate. In some cases, you may find your staff ordered duplicate items due to personal preference. Remind your staff how saving money on supplies improves the financial health of your practice, and look for one option that makes everyone happy.
Ask employees to carefully evaluate the value of a particular product before they put in an order request. If patients don’t like a product, or your staff finds it’s inefficient or difficult to use, there’s no point in continuing to order it.
2. Reorganize Your Supplies
In some cases, supplies are reordered prematurely because they couldn’t be found in a messy closet or disorganized cart. Occasionally, the supplies never even made it to the closet or cart in the first place. Ask a staff member to arrange the items appropriately and add labels to make locating supplies easier.
3. Develop a System
If your system for tracking supplies involves a file drawer of jumbled receipts, it’s time to improve the process. Recording the dates items were ordered, the prices of the items and the name of the supply company can help your employees remember if a) they forget to order an item or b) if the order was placed, but the item was never delivered.
This can also help you keep track of price increases. If you notice a price jump, ask about the difference, but be prepared to look for a cheaper option if the manufacturer isn’t willing to reduce the cost.
4. Shop Around
A savvy shopper can find deals and sales on many medical products. If one of your employees loves to share the deals he or she finds online or in stores every Monday morning, that staffer just might be the ideal person to appoint as your supply coordinator.
In addition to actively looking for deals, it’s also important to join manufacturer and distributor email lists. Although joining lists will increase the number of emails you receive, it’s a good way to get information on sales and special promotions that can save you money.
5. Discuss What Works
Sit down with your staff and discuss which products work and which don’t quite live up to expectations. In some cases, you may be able to return the product for a refund. Before you choose a replacement product, see if a product pre-trial is available prior to buying.
Making wise supply decisions can help you reduce costs and ensure the products you choose truly benefit your patients. Keeping track of supplies may be a little time consuming, but it’s worth the effort when you realize how much you can save.
Concerned about your budget? Check out our free guide, Stop the Budget Bleed: How Private Practice Physicians Can Reduce Spend.