How a Boston-area ASC used the pandemic to strengthen vendor relationships: Q&A

While the pandemic has strained ASC supply chain issues, Gregory DeConciliis, administrator of Boston Out-Patient Surgical Suites in Waltham, Mass., spoke with Becker's ASC Review on how to leverage good vendor relationships to solve issues. 

Question: What are your top supply chain challenges today?  

Gregory DeConciliis: Obviously we know about the pandemic supply chain challenges, but they've rebounded very well. I think a lot of it has to do with relationships. We communicated well with both our distributor, Cardinal Health, and our management company, AmSurg, regarding current and anticipated needs. Because of this, we currently do not have any major challenges with our supply chain. All of the [personal protective equipment] woes have been solved, and there seems to be sufficient access to meet our needs. We see our typical challenges of back orders on occasion, but nothing pandemic-related or serious in nature. We have continued to routinely receive items on allocation, like gloves, masks and gowns, despite our supply, and have built a stockpile we may not have kept in the past. ASCs like to run on just-in-time inventory, and we have bent our rules a bit on items such as PPE with this stockpiling.

Q: Is it easier or harder to work with supply and implant vendors than before the pandemic? Why?  

GD: We have always had good relationships with our vendors. I believe that this must be established at the onset — having excellent ongoing communication allows us to continue to have good relationships. Generally speaking, on a larger scale, certain vendors have been more likely to work with ASCs and have had more favorable pricing during the pandemic. This is important in joint replacement and other higher-acuity cases. While many hospitals curtailed or eliminated elective procedures, appropriately, for repurposing their staff and conserving critical PPE, ASCs became a part of the pandemic-healthcare solution. We were able to safely and effectively continue appropriate surgical care that was greatly needed for patients. As a result, many joint surgeons took the leap to same-day outpatient joint replacements — spine surgeons as well. This afforded them the opportunity to experience the efficiency and high quality of ASCs. And they wanted to stay even after the elective surgery restrictions ceased. This shift has resulted in vendors being more likely to buy into the outpatient shift for higher-acuity cases such as joints and spine. They realized they wanted to be a part of it, and not left behind. 

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