Ask The Expert With Barry Craig | April 2016

Happy Spring! 

I hope your winter was as mild as mine was. I saved over $800.00 on heating cost over the winter months. This made me feel warm and toasty all by itself.

Spring brings to mind several things:

Longer days, more daylight

Blooming things (allergies)

Clean up, clean out

Now is an excellent time to clean out your cabinets to the bare walls and throw out anything that has expired. It also a great time to rotate newer stock to the back and bring older stock forward to be used up first.

Today we are going to go over a few tips for saving money, saving time, and saving your sanity.

Saving Money

  1. Make a list of the top 50 items you currently order from your medical supply vendor. 
  2. Make a master sheet with the prices listed that you are currently paying. 
  3. Let your current vendor know you are shopping around and ask for their best prices on the items.
  4. Shop the list (minus prices) to other medical supply vendors and ask for their best price with the prices guaranteed for one year.
  • What you will find is an average reduction of your prices between 10-30%. If your practice spends $50,000 annually on medical supplies, this is a $15,000 savings.
  • Your current vendor will most likely reduce your prices significantly to keep your business. Remember, if another vendor has significant savings, you have to be willing to change vendors. Even if you like your current vendor and they bring donuts, it is about cost reduction and keeping your practice viable in this age of lower reimbursements.
  • For items such as tongue depressors, table paper, cotton swabs, etc., try to order the private labeled vendor brand. These items can be as much as 25% cheaper.
  • Check and see if they have bulk deals for ordering larger quantities. Check and see if there is a buying group in your area that can order in large quantities and split the savings.
  • Switch to LED bulbs. Sounds simple, but most LED bulbs use less than $1.00 in electricity for the whole year.
  • Put your lights and AC on a timer system. Program them to turn off or reduce usage during hours you are not there.

Saving Time –

  • In the evening, prefill and restock drawers/containers with the items you use most frequently. This will save time the next day and prevent you from scrambling to find the items you need most often.
  • Review the schedule for the next day and try to anticipate the lab testing that will take place. For instance, routine check-ups usually involve a CBC and UA. You can go ahead and get testing materials ready. DO NOT pre-label tubes, swabs, etc. with patient data.
  • Do routine maintenance, temp checks, etc. at the start of the day so that those items are not overlooked and do not interfere with the rhythm of your day. If your reagent reservoir is almost empty, go ahead and change it out.
  • Use LEAN manufacturing techniques. Everything that you use should have a spot or place for it. Always put things back in the same place or spot. Arrange your test kits, collection devices, etc. within arm’s reach of where you use them. If you can eliminate two extra steps for each process, you can save a lot of time each day. 

Save your SANITY – 

  • Take your lunch breaks. DO NOT say I don’t have time. Make time. You are entitled to a 30-minute lunch per 8-hour shift, it is the law. You need that down time, even if you just grab a snack.
  • Use your vacation time. A recent article stated that 34.5 billion dollars is wasted in unused vacation days and 40% of American workers leave vacation days unused. This is a tragedy. The average worker has 10 paid days per year. USE THEM. Break it into two weeks off at different times of the year. This helps you recharge, refocus, and revive.
  • If you have a true issue with a coworker, i.e. someone treating you badly or not pulling their weight at work, say something. Letting things fester just leads to repressed stress and anxiety. You should never dread going to work each day. If you do, take steps to change the dynamic or change jobs. Life is too short to hate what you do or your work situation.
  • Try meditation, yoga, or just plain exercise. All have been shown to reduce stress and lead to overall better health.