Cutting costs and achieving efficiency is now more important than ever for Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs). With this in mind, Regent Surgical Health (Regent) is spear-heading the use of electronic preference cards, which help partner centers around the country find specific case items that drive up costs.

But drilling down to the precise data wasn’t always an option. Prior to using the electronic preference cards, surgery center leadership relied on a metric in which total supply cost was divided by the total number of cases. Unfortunately, this metric provided ASC leaders only a rough idea of cost per case.

The electronic preference cards, though, provide a wide swath of data, as information is collected and compared across member facilities to get a clear picture of supply expenditures. This allows surgery centers to discern which physician items are driving up costs, and find where real savings can be captured.

“An increasing number of our partner centers are utilizing electronic preference cards and becoming more efficient and accurate with the high volume of cards being entered,” said Purchasing Manager Pat Wilsey. “We’re able to analyze the data from these cards and compare expenditures at centers within different states, and that allows facilities to fine tune their supply orders and save money.”

The cards not only allow Regent to compare data between facilities, they allow physicians and surgeons that work within a center to compare their preference items with those of their colleagues. That knowledge provides the power to make better decisions when ordering supplies, and also opens up a dialogue of where savings can be made.

“In the case of orthopedics in particular, this gives us the opportunity to work toward standardizing some very expensive implants that drive the cost at our heavy orthopedic centers,” said Purchasing Manager Chris Stine.

In addition, from an operational standpoint, streamlining case preparation per physician request not only minimizes waste, it translates to a faster turnaround time in the OR, allowing centers to maximize case volume.

Companies like HSTpathways also build and format electronic preference cards, but they are highly customized and driven by the needs and preferences of specific facilities. Regent lends assistance with structure and organization but facilities typically build their own preference lists. Staff must then fill out and update the cards correctly, reviewing them on a periodic basis.

“We encourage surgery centers to review cards for the most frequent procedures at least on a quarterly basis, said Purchasing Manager Temitope Abereoje. “They generally follow the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.”

Preference lists should also be examined on a daily basis, both as items are being pulled for procedures and when entered on card supply lists.

Stine noted that continuously reviewing and updated preference cards should be the industry standard.  “Any facility or management company that isn’t already doing this as a significant competitive disadvantage to those that are,” said Stine.

At the end of the day, electronic preference cards are only as good a tool as the staff using them. Regent works with ASCs to implement use of the cards and supports centers when staff changes or other issues hamper the process.

“It is a goal at all of our centers to use these cards, and we are constantly working with our facilities to get them up to speed,” said Stine.

To find out how Regent Surgical Health can create savings for your ASC, call 708-492-0531.