Soft­ware co­or­di­nates sur­gi­cal im­plant or­ders

Modern Healthcare - - INNOVATIONS - By Adam Ruben­fire

For hos­pi­tal ad­min­is­tra­tors, the process of procur­ing sur­gi­cal im­plants and tools and making sure they are within bud­get can be com­plex. Med­i­cal-de­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tives talk to sur­geons about what they’ll be bring­ing to a surgery. But ad­min­is­tra­tors are of­ten in the dark about what tools were ac­tu­ally used dur­ing a pro­ce­dure.

If ad­min­is­tra­tors find out af­ter a surgery that a tool or de­vice used was off-con­tract or more ex­pen­sive than an­tic­i­pated, the hos­pi­tal then has to hag­gle with the ven­dor over price. This takes time and slows the pay­ment process.

“It is a con­stant prob­lem try­ing to rec­on­cile all that stuff,” said Adam Hig­man, vice pres­i­dent at Soyring Con­sult­ing, a St. Peters­burg, Fla.-based health­care con­sult­ing firm. “De­pend­ing on the institution and the re­la­tion­ship with the sur­geons and the rep­re­sen­ta­tives, who takes the fall (for the charges) can be vari­able.”

Re­spond­ing to this con­fus­ing sit­u­a­tion, Amin Rahme founded Surgery Ex­change to hold de­vice-sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives ac­count­able for what they bring to a surgery so that any off-con­tract items can be ap­proved ahead of time. Surgery Ex­change’s soft­ware re­quires them to pre-reg­is­ter all items with ad­min­is­tra­tors, and al­lows sur­gi­cal staff to record which tools and im­plants they use dur­ing surgery.

Those items then can be re­viewed, and if nec­es­sary, an­a­lyzed by con­tract com­pli­ance ad­min­is­tra­tors be­fore a pur­chase or­der is ap­proved and sent through the plat­form. Com­pli­ance staff mem­bers are kept in the loop about po­ten­tial sup­ply changes and of­f­con­tract re­quests through­out the process, and are able to dis­cuss any dis­crep­an­cies with ven­dors.

Sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives of­ten bring nearly $100,000 worth of de­vices to a surgery, but of­ten use only a few thou­sand dol­lars’ worth of those prod­ucts be­cause sur­geons don’t of­ten know what sizes or com­po­nents they’ll need un­til they open a pa­tient up, Rahme said.

“Some­times the surgery re­quires things that weren’t planned be­fore. That’s OK,” he said. “But with our soft­ware, there are no sur­prises.”

Be­cause im­plant surg­eries typ­i­cally are sched­uled at least a month in ad­vance, Rahme be­lieves there is more than enough time for ven­dors to plan what prod­ucts they would like to bring to the hos­pi­tal. Even though it takes them ex­tra time to log items through Surgery Ex­change, they will get paid more quickly be­cause there’s less rec­on­cil­i­a­tion to be done af­ter surgery, Rahme said.

At­lanta-based Surgery Ex­change also re­quires sur­gi­cal staff to record the lot num­bers of items used dur­ing surgery. That can be help­ful for hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials in case of a prod­uct re­call.

Soft­ware cur­rently on the mar­ket helps providers with sched­ul­ing, pur­chase or­ders and ma­te­ri­als man­age­ment. But those prod­ucts don’t han­dle the “bill-only” rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process. Bill-only hap­pens be­tween sched­ul­ing and ac­counts-payable—two de­part­ments that don’t nec­es­sar­ily com­mu­ni­cate with each other and have lit­tle sup­port for this process.

“We’ve got all th­ese sys­tems in place, but the unique chal­lenges of the bill-only process fall mostly out­side of the sys­tems that are in place now,” Rahme said.

Four hos­pi­tals cur­rently use the Surgery Ex­change sys­tem, which was launched in Jan­uary: Huntsville (Ala.) Hos­pi­tal; the two hos­pi­tals of the Lees­burg-based Cen­tral Florida Health Al­liance; and Sara­sota (Fla.) Me­mo­rial Health­care Sys­tem.

Rahme es­ti­mates Surgery Ex­change saves hos­pi­tals an av­er­age of about 2.5% in sup­ply costs. Be­yond that, the com­pany touts its abil­ity to sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the time it takes hos­pi­tal staff to rec­on­cile bills for sur­gi­cal tools and de­vices.

For Thomas Fender, vice pres­i­dent of the sur­gi­cal ser­vice line at 876-bed Huntsville Hos­pi­tal, that means free­ing up his staff for more im­por­tant tasks. He said he ex­pected sur­gi­cal-de­vice ven­dors to push back on adding new soft­ware to their work­flow, but he hasn’t got­ten any neg­a­tive feed­back yet.

“It creates trans­parency and clar­ity of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and ac­count­abil­ity,” Fender said. “There’s no place for any­body to hide, be­cause ev­ery­thing is out there. There’s lit­tle ex­cuse for any of us to drop the ball.”

Right now, Fender is us­ing Surgery Ex­change only for joint prod­ucts, which rep­re­sent about 125 pro­ce­dures a month at his hos­pi­tal. He’s rolling out the soft­ware for spinal im­plants next and has plans to even­tu­ally use the sys­tem for all im­plant surg­eries.

Rahme wants to ex­pand Surgery Ex­change and its hold­ing com­pany, MedTech Ex­change, to sup­port the to­tal episode of pa­tient care and help hos­pi­tals re­duce read­mis­sions. He said his com­pany has a strat­egy and part­ners to im­ple­ment that plan.

“Some­times the surgery re­quires things that weren’t planned be­fore. That’s OK. But with our soft­ware, there are no sur­prises.”



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