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Profitable, sustainable reprocessing programs: A healthcare provider’s checklist

March 01, 2024
Business Affairs
Lars Thording
This article is the second in a three-part series, looking at the evolution of the reprocessing industry, and empowering providers who are learning to navigate it. Read part one here.

By Lars Thording

The hospital cost savings that are possible through a well-run single-use device reprocessing program are well-documented. Reprocessed devices are, after all, much more affordable than new ones, while still delivering the same safety and efficacy. However, maximizing the full value of a device reprocessing program is about more than just comparing the cost of a new device to a reprocessed one.

Let’s take a look at the questions hospitals should be asking to ensure their partners are able to deliver the maximum value possible within a reprocessing program—both today and into the future.

Discount sellers vs. reuse consultants
Your reprocessor should work closely with you to get the maximum out of your reprocessing program. This includes working with physicians, educating technologists, supporting the hospital in financial calculations and value analysis activities, and preparing them for discussions with the original manufacturer. This is a founding principle in reprocessing. In the end, the price of the reprocessed catheter matters little in what level of savings the hospital achieves; what matters more is the physician education (for example) that drives acceptance and volume.

In recent years, some reprocessors have emerged to act much more as discount sellers of cheap devices, and then the discussion is about unit price rather than about the results of the program. Real reprocessing representatives function more as reuse consultants than as discount sellers.

Questions to ask
• Will you work with us to increase utilization of reprocessed catheters?
• Can you work with our value analysis team?
• Do you have analysts that can help us understand the total value of reprocessing versus other conflicting offerings?
• Do you offer a savings guarantee?

Proportional product availability
A fundamental policy in reprocessing is that the hospital should be able to purchase the number of reprocessed devices that corresponds with what was collected – minus devices that had to be taken out of the process due to damage or maximum number of uses. Bad reprocessing practice is to collect from many hospitals and then just sell back to a few that pay the highest price.

Ensuring proportional product availability requires that the reprocessor makes data available in real time about what products and how many have been collected from the hospital, then make data available about what devices, and in which quantities, are available to purchase. Accurate and accessible data are a very important tool in the reprocessing process.

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