6 strategies to reduce the costs associated with your medical equipment
Since the dawn of the NHS back in 1948 our basic offering has remained the same – healthcare free at the point of consumption – but the equipment we use to provide healthcare has changed beyond all recognition.
There isn’t an acute trust that wouldn’t grind to a halt immediately if you took away their medical equipment, no matter how good their doctors and nurses are.
So, when’s the right time to mothball (or list on Ebay?!) your existing medical equipment and buy some new stuff instead?
Working up and down the country we’ve seen NHS finance departments react to this challenge across the full spectrum, from sticking their heads in the sand all the way to active engagement with clinical and procurement colleagues.
The technical way to do it is to perform a medical technology assessment (MTA), looking at safety, performance and impact on clinical and non-clinical outcomes. This can be time consuming though, especially for a resource strapped finance team.
What’s the answer then?
1). User Training
How much will it cost you to retrain your clinical and nursing staff to use new equipment? Can these costs be built into the purchase price when negotiating with suppliers? Can these costs be split with other local providers who are procuring the same equipment?
2). Compliance with regulatory guidance
New regulatory guidance can sometimes lead to forced obsolescence of equipment. You may be able to put in place work-around solutions in order to mitigate against this, but you should have a risk register in place ranking equipment and the associated levels of liability associated with them.
3). Patient Safety
Is your trust using equipment that could potentially fail? Are you keeping an eye on whether other trusts are experiencing incidents with specific pieces of equipment?
4). Continuing Reliability
Are you beginning to experience difficulties in sourcing spare parts or accessories? Is your legacy equipment providing a lower standard of care than could be expected by patients? Is the time it takes to service or repair equipment impacting on patient care?
5). Cost Of Repairs
Are you monitoring repair expenses to check whether they justify the replacement of a piece of equipment? There are classes of equipment that are cheap to buy, but expensive to repair or service. Sometimes replacement is actually cheaper than repair.
6). Notification of End-of-Life
Has the equipment’s manufacturer issued an end-of-life notice? Even reliable equipment will be adversely affected by this. This is another area that should be under regular review.
NHS Capital spending is currently coming under intense pressure as trusts look to convert monies into revenue spending in an attempt to balance their books. A thorough assessment of medical equipment will lead to more effective spending and therefore increased value for money.