When it comes to the 3,500 US hospitals, medical supply purchasing accounts for 15% of total hospital expenses. This can go as high as 30% – 40% depending on use-case and case-mixing.
It isn’t just cost that poses a challenge to medical purchasing. Knowing whether you should find a family medical supply company locally or order medical supplies online can make a big difference in your lead times and costs.
You don’t have to be a major hospital chain to encounter issues like these. Want to know some common challenges and how to overcome them? Keep reading to find out!
Challenges of a Medical Supply Chain
Finding a good and reliable medical surgical supply company during 2020 and into 2021 is a challenge for even the most experienced purchasers. Demand is higher than ever and production, while ramped up, is still not enough to meet ongoing needs.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and in the middle all can agree on one thing — the USA is underinvested in medical supply networks. This isn’t just done on the flip of a switch, however. Not only are investments needed, but a revitalizing of an entire geopolitical mindset that has diminished and laid dormant following the Korean War.
Commonly Used Medical Supplies
It’s important to know what you’ll use often in your particular use-case. The use-case of a hospital surgery theater and a bank or office is different. You’ll need to see what’s federally required and plan to go a step or two beyond.
Common supply kits include:
- IV start kits
- Central line IV change trays
- General-purpose procedure kits
- Blood pressure kits
- Diabetic testing kits
- First-Aid kits
Some of the most commonly used supplies in hospitals and clinics alike looks something like this:
- Needles and syringes
- Compartment trays
- Medicine cups
- Cotton balls and swabs
- Alcohol pads
- PVP ampules
A more comprehensive list of necessary components and supplies can be found here. It might be strange to think of the US Department of Commerce giving a complete list of medical supplies. But nothing gets past an accountant’s eye of scrutiny.
Taking a Page From The Strategic National Stockpile Playbook
Actually, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) takes an accounting of different essential industries and the reserve of essential products at the disposal of the government for aid and security. As a matter of national defense, they keep major caches of these essential supplies scattered in strategic locations across the USA.
No one knows supply management like the Strategic National Stockpile. The SNS is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services but works closely with the BIS to plan its own stockpiling efforts.
You may not need to go to the same lengths as the Federal Shelf Life Extension Program and Inventory Management and Tracking System. But taking a page from the book would be good business sense.
Having a system of accountability and traceability for your medical products is partially built into the system with medical laser marking. However, keeping a record of your own will help you use medical supplies on time, without having them expire without use.
Enacting a role such as this over medical supply stocks will save you much more money than it costs, in the long run.
How to Choose the Right Medical Supply Company
In general, there are six points you’ll want to cover with your medical supply store or medical equipment supplier. They are, in no particular order:
- Medical supply and medical equipment quality
- Diverse supply inventory and manufacturer partnerships
- High-level after-sales service
- Technical expertise about their stock
- Customer reviews
- Purchasing convenience
Customer reviews can give you a glimpse into both technical expertise, purchasing convenience, and after-sales service — but they only tell one side, and of a stranger at that. Don’t take customer reviews as gospel, but do help it inform your medical supply decision-making.
Try to make a mock order long before choosing one. If there’s a complex process, complex pricing, or clunky user experience, give it a pass. Sometimes financing options are suggested with banks or institutions that they’re used to dealing with — count this as a sign of professionalism and not a chance for an affiliate kickback of some sort.
Rather, they want to help enable you to do business smoothly.
Before purchasing, get in touch with a representative or agent of some kind with tough questions ready to fire off. If they can answer them — or efficiently direct you to someone who can — you’re on the right track. These signs in particular will help to inform you how their after-sales care will be.
When it comes to the quality of their medical equipment, it helps to know who their manufacturing partners are. Most distributors and supply companies deal directly with manufacturers. Getting a medical supply company that deals with the most reputable medical equipment and medical supply manufacturers is what you want.
Having a good relationship with more than one manufacturer not only gives you options for trying different supplies but dealing with one supplier. It also gives you peace of mind that they are an industry leader that keeps up with trends.
Best Tips for Finding Your New Medical Supply Company
Medical supply doesn’t have to sap you of energy, money, and time. Follow the tips in this article and you might be saving yourself (and others) more than you realize.
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