4 Things You Didn't Know You Should Ask of Your Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) Development Collaborators

Many ASC materials managers are missing out on a valuable resource — one that could make the path to opening day smoother and more efficient.

This resource is their supplier. Ideally, the supplier relationship gives materials managers access to support in establishing processes, ordering equipment and supplies, monitoring construction progress, and even navigating accreditation concerns. To help you get the most out of your relationship with your distributors, here are four ways you may not know you can tap into their experience and expertise.

Help with an Early Start

Giving yourself padding on ASC supply planning goes a long way in preventing opening delays, protecting profitability, and keeping the entire process as smooth as possible. But this doesn't happen if supply ordering is delayed until a few weeks before opening day.

We generally recommend an 18 to 24 month head start, in part because this is when your distributor can step in and offer support in multiple areas, including bundling solutions and guidance into a package that can walk with you through the process, from planning to grand opening.

For example, your distributor can provide expert clinicians and clinical consultants who have years of experience in the ASC field. They can work with you to maximize space, improve storage room planning, and optimize inventory management. These professionals can step in to review floor plans and designs in ways that even architects specialized in healthcare may not be able to provide. They often offer support in mapping capital equipment such as storage equipment, fluid management systems, and anesthesia equipment to maximize use of space and establish workflows. Through clinical insight scenarios they can bring awareness of the implications of seemingly minor changes that might appear insignificant, but that can directly impact the future of your ASC.

Don't wait to contact a vendor partner for your new build. The right supplier will have a wealth of experience and services to offer to get you prepped for ASC success.

Support with Process and Inventory Management Planning

If you need outside support with process development and inventory, your distributor should be someone you can turn to.

For new ASCs with no prior usage history and minimal insights into elements like preference cards, clinical consultants can walk you through the process of reviewing clinical standards—starting you off with standard procedure packs and recommendations based on the services you'll be providing. This way, as new physicians are brought on, you can adapt and adjust your orders, working year-to-year to optimize your selections.

If an ASC has existing relationships with physicians, your distributor should be able to take preference cards after they're pulled and support a seamless transition as your new facility is established.

This all happens in addition to support in managing inventory and supply costs, and establishing and refining quality standards that help keep your costs low. They'll do this while monitoring construction progress so that your process development and ordering stays in rhythm with the overall progress of your build.

Input on Financial Projections and Budgeting

Equipment and supply costs, along with procurement strategies can have significant impact on ASC financial health.

Your ideal distributor will work with your budget to adjust your lists, providing input and recommendations across a wide range of products. Additionally, they should be able to provide alternatives for anything they don't have available. Beyond this, they should offer projections based on data you provide, and even possible recommendations on accessing lines of credit with lending institutions.

Insights Through the Accreditation Process

The ASC accreditation process depends heavily on prompt delivery of the supplies and equipment needed to perform procedures for evaluation. Your supplier should offer support in meeting national and state-specific requirements, such as navigating certificate of need approval timing and limitations.

They should have deep experience in making decisions through the accreditation process, acting as a connection to resources you may not be aware of. For example, a choice to order a 2-base sink when a 3-base is required for accreditation can waste thousands in equipment alone, in addition to lost time and delays in clearing accreditation standards. This is an issue your ideal distributor can catch before a purchase is made.

Ultimately, your distributor should be a source of knowledge and long-term support in ASC development. To learn how you can incorporate the insight and experience of Cardinal Health into your current stage of ambulatory surgery center development, contact asc@cardinalhealth.com.

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