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Third-party reprocessing: A safe way to contain costs and reduce waste

Brian White

This is the third article in a six-part series on pursuing true sustainability initiatives to revolutionize the healthcare industry, written by Brian White, president of Stryker Sustainability Solutions.

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All around the industry, people are buzzing about cost containment -- it's a critical issue for many hospitals. Smart resource allocation today will help fund important quality care initiatives tomorrow. I'd like to see more health care executives sharing solutions and best practices with peers so they can achieve their goals faster.

In the spirit of sharing, I would like to devote this column to a cost containment solution that's working for several leading hospitals across the country: third-party reprocessing.

I haven't always been aware of third-party reprocessing. I started my Stryker career at the Medical division 8 years ago, long before we acquired a market-leader in single-use medical device reprocessing. Prior to joining Sustainability Solutions, I wasn't fully educated on the regulatory framework that supports reprocessing, or the scientific breakthroughs that have continually made it a safe and effective solution for many hospitals. Take it from someone who's been in the medical technology business a long time - reprocessing is one of the most impactful healthcare sustainability initiatives available to U.S. hospitals today. In fact, AMDR reports that more than 3,000 hospitals throughout the nation are actively engaged in third-party reprocessing programs. I can't think of another strategy that can generate such enormous savings with little or no upfront investment.

Saving on supply costs

Reprocessing leverages single-use medical devices (SUDs) as assets, not waste. Through FDA-regulated reprocessing programs, SUDs are cleaned, inspected, and sterilized by third-party reprocessors and sold back to hospitals for safe and effective use again.

Reprocessed devices are about half the cost of SUDs, making their purchase an impactful and sustainable cost-containment strategy. Stryker estimates our programs save hospitals $5.25 in supply costs every second. Some hospitals have even saved as much as $600,000 annually*. When hospitals follow best practices, they can optimize their savings results and even increase savings year over year - making it a long-term cost containment strategy vs. one-time volume pricing discounts.

Administrators understand that they're not just saving on the purchase cost for each device. They're also saving money on the highly regulated and expensive disposition of medical devices that must be processed before arriving to local landfills.

Continue reading Third-party reprocessing: A safe way to contain costs and reduce waste...
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