Ordering. Stocking. Pulling. Day after day, case after case. If managing your surgical supplies is a source of frustration for you and your staff, you might want to consider procedure packs, which arrange all the procedure-specific products you'll need for an entire case into one container. Plus, procedure packs condense the surgical supply purchasing process to one company, one invoice, one check, one purchase order, one product to receive and one product to pull from storage.
Manufacturers are finding ways to improve the convenience of their products, making ordering, handling, tracking and storage easier. Here's a rundown, listed alphabetically by company, of what's new.
- Alcon. According to focus groups, end users find handling, storing and labeling procedure packs can be arduous, so Alcon has devised new packaging to eliminate or reduce these problems, says an Alcon representative. Ophthalmology-only Custom Paks' new packaging, which will be in place by fall, has more defined sides and more uniform sizes, making stacking the packs on storage room shelves easier. According to Alcon, the more defined shape also lets you put a label on the end of each pack, so you find what you need faster.
"Anytime you can get a little more uniformity, you get a little more quality," says an Alcon representative. "By finding ways to better confine the components, we've improved your safety on the handling side."
In addition, Alcon will also clearly label latex-free Custom Paks as such, instead of only labeling packs that contain products with latex. It's also worth noting that Alcon will arrange the pack exactly the way you want it (for example, sequencing the components in the order you'll need them).
- B. Braun Medical. B. Braun offers customization of its epidural, spinal, peripheral nerve block and combined spinal/epidural trays, as well as of its other kits, such as IV start, central venous catheter and port access kits. If you meet the annual volume criteria, all you have to do is work with your local representative.
"If you find there are either some components missing from one of our standard line trays or extra items you don't need to complete the procedure, we can produce a customized version of the tray that suits your specific clinical needs," says Christopher DiBiase, the product director for pain control at B. Braun. "If you find you need a different drape, a certain needle, or you don't need saline solution, for instance, we can easily do that."
- BD Ophthalmic Systems. BD recently launched its Readypak line, which include BD knives, blades and cannulas - including BD's new safety cataract knife - in sterile containers that can be saved if not used. The company says there is no limit to product selection, and preference changes are quickly implemented.
- Cardinal Health. Cardinal launched at the AORN Congress its Presource program, which includes sterile, non-sterile, standard and custom procedure kits. In addition, there's a new Internet module that helps you meet financial benchmarking goals. Through the newly redesigned online Pack Manager module, you build your packs and streamline your operations with the help of a Cardinal sales representative and additional clinical and logistics resources. Pack Manager shows you on-hand inventory, procedure pack components and where your cost-saving opportunities lie. A scorecard in your account tracks your progress.
"Say your goal is to reduce operating expenses by $100,000," says Derick Elliott, Cardinal's director of marketing for Presource. "We would build a scorecard in Pack Manager to help you measure your progress to that goal."
- Cytosol Ophthalmics. Cytosol Ophthalmics recently started offering ExactPacks. Ron Clarke, Cytosol's director of sales and marketing, says his company will create ExactPacks common to all your physicians as well as smaller, separate packs that contain individual physicians' requested items, including Cytosol's ExactEtch instruments. Mr. Clarke says Cytosol also recently added ExactPacks to its list of products distributed internationally.
- DeRoyal. You can buy the company's custom trays through its Web-based CPT Optimizer, which lets you build, modify and price trays, according to the company.
- EyeDirecti. Playing phone tag with your sales rep? EyeDirecti.com has a solution: Let customers build and manage ophthalmology procedure packs online; customer service reps are available if needed.
EyeDirecti's Kurt Tarter says the 2-year-old program lets you
- order any time, any day;
- order the brands you want, without third-party influence;
- see the pack's price as items are added or deleted;
- view on-hand inventory and historical usage;
- check order status; and
- track shipping.
"It's like buying from Dell computers," says Mr. Tarter. "You use an extensive online menu of products to build a custom PC. We provide the same freedom of product choice in custom procedure packs. We empower the consumer with choice and control."
"Everything from anesthesia and set-up through clean-up. It's a procedure in a box," says Jim O'Brien, Medline's vice president of marketing, sterile procedural tray division.
The boxes are U.S. Department of Transportation-approved, so you can dispose of everything, including red-bag waste, in the boxes. Medline also works with customers to provide three-dimensional storage layouts and to find ways to enhance the flow of procedure components from delivery to the center to delivery to the OR.
"We're literally re-designing the storage room - fitting to the boxes and providing customized carts, shelving and racks," says Mr. O'Brien. "The goal is to maximize storage space, minimize OR turnover times, and to give nurses more time to spend with patients and less time picking for cases."
- SRI Surgical Express. SRI Surgical Express offers case carts customized entirely to the procedure, but OR delivery and instrument processing set them apart, says Gene Kirtser, vice president of marketing and business development.
SRI's case carts include a surgical instrument set, reusable gowns, towels, drapes and stainless steel components such as basins, bowls and medicine cups. The carts contain 90-plus percent of items need for a procedure, says Mr. Kirtser, are customized to surgeon preference and are delivered the day of the surgery. Here's how the system works:
- SRI integrates with facilities' OR schedules, looks at the schedule and the physicians performing the surgeries, matches that information against the preference cards on file and builds case carts to the surgeons' specifications.
- Case carts are delivered by SRI to the OR door before the procedure (SRI has 10 facilities and nearly nationwide capabilities).
- At day's end, the company picks up anything reusable and returns them to its FDA-regulated reprocessing facility, where the items are decontaminated, washed and sterilized for hospital use.
Mr. Kirtser says SRI might soon mark all instruments with radiofrequency identification microchips for better inventory control; the company already does this with Class II medical devices and re-usable gowns and drapes.
"It lets us track how many times our products are being used," says Mr. Kirtser. "Soon, we'll be able to assemble a pack, scan all chips in the pack to ensure they match customer specifications, and catch any errors."
Cost vs. efficiency
Having all procedure components in one package can save your nurses the burden of individually ordering, stocking and pulling. Compare the labor costs of devoting staff to these tasks with the cost of convenience to determine whether procedure packs are for you.