How to choose the right partner for SUD reprocessing

August 27, 2012
By Brian White

This story first appeared in the August 2012 issue of DOTmed Business News

Hospitals across the country are looking for solutions to manage resources smartly to ultimately help improve the quality of care delivery. One solution that’s producing results is reprocessing single-use devices (SUDs). The cost-savings and waste-reduction benefits for some hospitals can be quite significant. However, not all third-party reprocessors are the same. Choosing the right reprocessor could mean the difference between an average and a healthy cost savings.

When considering SUD reprocessing, it’s important to find a partner that will help you realize maximum financial and environmental benefit to your hospital system while minimizing disruptions to your supply chain, staff and clinical practices. Ask the following questions to help determine the right reprocessing partner for you.

Sustainability is one of our hospital’s top priorities. How can you help us be a more sustainable hospital through reprocessing?

Sustainability in health care today must transcend environmental initiatives to include smart financial resource management. The best reprocessing partner will evaluate your current situation and help you set specific financial and environmental sustainability goals. You’ll also want to explore the tools and best practices your reprocessing partner can offer to help set benchmarks and incentives to achieving your goals. This can include things like savings guarantees.

How will you help us obtain buy-in?

Management and staff must have buy-in for the program to succeed. A reprocessor that provides tours of its production facilities and offers a commitment to produce visual materials that can be displayed in key staff and clinical areas can help remind staff of the benefits to your hospital and increase program compliance.

What type of staff training and education do you provide?

Your reprocessor should provide resources to educate your staff, including regular in-service trainings. Understanding the facts about reprocessing and being fully educated on the program is crucial to realizing optimal savings. The more your staff knows, the more successful your program will be. Additionally, look to your reprocessing partner to help facilitate an ongoing dialogue about reprocessing developments and tips for best practices.

How will you integrate the reprocessing program into our supply chain?

Purchasing, storing and using reprocessed devices need not be a burden on your staff or your facility, and can be as easy as using devices from original equipment manufacturers. Some reprocessors use device packaging similar to that of the original manufacturer, making for easier integration into the hospital and onto shelves. Also, ask if the reprocessed devices will come back to you in the same case quantities as the OM devices. Finally, look for a partner that will help you implement cutting edge supply chain systems, such as GHX, to fit into your established supply, storage and usage patterns.

How does your collections system work?

The most successful reprocessing programs are easy to incorporate into your existing operations. Some reprocessors require additional handling of devices by hospital staff, which can cause the program to drift and the positive results to decline. A reprocessor that provides containers designed to collect all SUDs regardless of whether they can be reprocessed requires minimal extra effort from hospital staff. The reprocessor can handle the sorting on their end, and recycle or discard devices that cannot be reprocessed.

What types of support services do you provide?

Look for a partner that provides a full-time, dedicated representative to see that your program grows and achieves optimal savings. Your representative is a constant resource for program improvement opportunities and continuous staff education. He or she is also there to make sure you are ordering products that match your usage pattern, so you realize your full savings potential. Having to wait for your specific devices to be reprocessed means you might experience shortages or may have to purchase devices that don’t help you meet your reprocessing goals.

How are you committed to helping us meet our goals?

Look for a reprocessing partner that offers regular check-ins on your program to monitor its progress and success. Your reprocessor should help you build tracking and reporting systems for the staff to follow the program’s progress and should provide a best-practice approach for establishing and maintaining facility-wide program support. If more savings can be realized, your reprocessing partner should work with you to adjust your program within your facility or expand the program to other parts of the hospital. From implementation, to education, to business planning and program expansion, your reprocessing partner should be there to offer support to help meet your goals.

Selecting the right reprocessing partner can impact your program results and could mean a difference in thousands of dollars of savings each year. Ask proactive questions and fully engage your reprocessing provider to maximize the sustainability benefits to your hospital.

About the author: Brian White is President of Stryker Sustainability Solutions, an industry leader in thirdparty medical device reprocessing and remanufacturing.