Waste is always a bad thing, and you would think that most healthcare organizations would be targeting unnecessary costs. To the contrary, waste is rampant in all but a few hospitals because they don’t see the benefits of eliminating costs that can’t readily be seen, touched, or recognized. Don’t fall into this trap! Here are five major areas of waste that need to be addressed if your healthcare organization is to survive and thrive in this new era of reform:
- Recycling: Hospitals use tons of paper, plastic, glass, and metals annually in their day-to-day operations. By recycling vs. discarding this unwanted refuse, your facility can save tens of thousands of dollars yearly. In years past, I was deeply involved in recycling all of these materials as one of my supply chain functions. It saved my hospital thousands of dollars annually, so don’t think it is someone else’s job.
- Single-Use Devices: The hesitation to reprocess pulse oximeters, compression sleeves, catheters, etc., is usually a decision driven by your medical staff. However, since there isn’t a medically legal reason not to do so, I would obtain a list from your reprocessor on the hospitals in your locale that are doing so. This can bolster your argument that this is a best practice at hundreds of hospitals and even teaching hospitals nationally. Don’t let these savings slip away from you due to misunderstandings by your medical staff about the efficacy of this practice.
- Value Mismatches: This is where lower cost products, services, or technologies aren’t being employed by your hospital. Instead, a higher cost (usually feature rich) commodity is being purchased when a lower cost functional equivalent is available. In simpler terms, hospitals aren’t buying enough “generics” vs. brand name products. By doing so, your hospital can shave as much as 50% off your routine purchases. Isn’t it time you investigate these alternatives?
- Electricity: Electric costs run about 1 to 3 percent of your hospital’s operating budget, but have been a frequently overlooked source of savings. A small investment in lighting upgrades, occupancy sensors, and computerized controls could result in tens of thousands of dollars in cost reductions. This seems to be a no-brainer to me.
- Water: Millions of gallons of water flow through your facility yearly for hand washing, bathing, flushing, etc. This needs to be minimized, starting with low flow faucets and toilets. If your facility can’t make these changes overnight, they surely can make these upgrades as your sinks and toilets are replaced over time.
Recycling, utilization, energy, and water conservations are now becoming a supply chain imperative. For instance, two of our supply chain clients are now negotiating natural gas contracts with third parties to reduce their hospitals’ energy cost. This brings home the fact that conservation of your hospital’s resources is not just some other department’s job; it is everybody’s job in your healthcare organization because if you waste less, you save more.
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