'Tis the season for year-end equipment planning

By Cindy Juhas / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
December 20, 2019

Ah, the holidays – that time of year smothered by gravy, relatives, shopping and countless Christmas jingles.

As business in the supply chain of healthcare facilities winds down to address these seasonal concerns, there is an incredible opportunity to use the newfound time to plan your equipment needs. With 2020 budgets coming together and tax strategies being finalized for both new purchases and used equipment write-downs, now is the time to take stock of your facility’s existing equipment inventory and plan for the future.

Make a List

All departments of a facility need to be assessed in order to make a comprehensive equipment plan. The heads of each one should be looped in for the equipment evaluation, asking the following preliminary questions:

  • What do we have?
  • What do we need?
  • What do we want?

By starting with the basics, supply chain management will plant the seeds of the collaboration. The feedback from such simple questions should generate enough business intelligence to compare it with the facility’s existing healthcare equipment inventories and strategies. It’s a good practice for getting everyone on the same page.

Check it Twice

Once a baseline of comparison is established, the real work can begin. Often this will involve researching the latest product innovations and determining what equipment requested by the department heads can be procured within reasonable budget forecasts, and what requests are too ambitious for the coming year.

However, do not be quick to reject any equipment request strictly on financial grounds. By consulting a healthcare equipment-sourcing specialist, facility managers can get a better understanding of the supply chain and find hidden efficiencies that make a seemingly expensive product much cheaper by getting it second hand or through another manufacturer. Equipment companies may also know of similar products that perform just as well for the functions of that particular department.

There also may be longer-term cost analyses that can prove to be enlightening. For instance, if operating rooms invest in certain anti-HAI products, the purchase may throw off the facilities purchasing budget for 2020. But a closer – and expert – look may show that the savings in reduced readmissions could produce a savings just as great as the expense, and that savings might be able to be replicated year over year through 2030 and beyond. All of a sudden, the facility can’t afford not to make the investment.

It is critical to do the homework when charting the facilities equipment needs. Also, a closer look at equipment requisitions with the help of a third-party equipment specialist might conclude that the equipment “need” was really just an equipment “want,” and more efficiencies could be uncovered elsewhere in the operation without investing in new products. An example of this could be maintaining your workstations-on-wheels (WOW’s) through a biomedical services contract instead of fully replacing them with new – and more expensive – ones.

Find Out Who’s Naughty and Nice

Do not be shocked when department administrators come back with a partial accounting of their equipment which fall short in comparison to the official logs. These discrepancies are opportunities for inter-department education and updating important information.

A lot of times equipment gets decommissioned or moved during the year, falling out of sight and mind of those departments. Such discoveries should not be discouraging. They provide a clearer picture of the facilities’ equipment needs, and they might even be a source of additional revenue.

By tapping an equipment disposition company, facility managers can unlock the hidden value of their decommissioned equipment. Instead of collecting dust in the equipment “morgue,” those items can be sold for cash, recycled or donated to a nonprofit for a considerable tax deduction. Sometimes, an equipment sourcing company may buy it back with reduced freight costs or give a credit towards the purchase of new ones.

With all these options and moving parts within a comprehensive equipment plan, it’s good to assess all inventories this time of year and pit them against the facility’s broader equipment strategy. After all, a plan is only as useful as the accuracy of the data backing it up.

Cindy Juhas is Chief Strategy Officer for CME Corp, a national full-service healthcare equipment distributor.

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