How to overcome common facility challenges to optimize ASC logistics

There’s more to logistics than ordering and receiving supplies. It’s also important to consider how supplies flow from your distributor’s truck to their point of use.

Optimizing your logistical processes is a prime opportunity to showcase the value of materials management in supporting efficiency, revenue and quality care goals. Here are some common challenges and how to overcome them.

Your facility

Your facility itself could pose logistical challenges, depending on where it’s located to how easy it is for suppliers to deliver their products to you. I’ve observed that challenges directly related to your facility can create inefficiencies, increase supply costs, and even diminish safety. You should also consider how your location impacts ease of access for your patients.

To evaluate your location, consider how significant the distance is from your facility to your distributor’s nearest warehouse. This can impact your delivery times and the amount of inventory you need to have on hand for unforeseen weather events. Delivery access is also important. Once delivery trucks arrive at your facility, they may be too large to navigate the parking lots of shopping malls and medical complexes where ASCs are often located. It will also determine if your delivery will need to be “hands on”. Lastly, consider if your receiving area (or lack thereof) is making deliveries more difficult. If you don’t have a loading dock, for example, your supplies could be exposed to weather. I’ve found that you may also face safety and liability issues if your deliveries are left in public areas like shared hallways or stairwells. 

While every facility’s needs are different, the best solution for most ASCs is to talk with your distributor about customizing the best solution for you. If your location is a challenge, your distributor can adjust your delivery schedule to ensure you maintain par levels. If delivery access is an issue, perhaps a smaller truck is the answer. Unlike acute care facilities, ASCs aren’t open 24/7/365, so work with your distributor to ensure that all deliveries are scheduled during your regular hours of operation for immediate fulfillment. 

Lease restrictions and rental costs

If your facility suffers from limited storage or lacks a weather-safe receiving area, alterations to your building might be a solution. However, even if your facility would benefit from additional space or renovations, lease restrictions or associated rent increases can inhibit the change you need. Furthermore, adding an extension can drive costs up while potentially driving profits down—particularly if you’re using the space for non-revenue-producing purposes like storage.

If you’re thinking about making space modifications, it’s important to consider if your lease agreement allows such changes. If not, you may need to determine alternate approaches to streamline receiving and optimize storage. For example, consider renting a storage shed or offsite storage space, particularly if your current inventory is impeding doorways or access to supplies. Outside or offsite storage can be appropriate for bulk supplies, cleaning supplies, paper products, and items that don’t require a controlled temperature and humidity. Or, work with your distributor to ensure you have only the inventory you need and aren’t storing extra supplies. Maximize your delivery schedule to get your par levels as close as possible to JIT levels. If you don’t have a proper receiving area, your distributor should work with you to determine a way to receive products safely and on time.

To learn more about optimizing your ASC supply chain, visit cardinalhealth.com/surgerycenters.

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