There is often a lack of understanding regarding the differences between the market segments of acute and non-acute facilities. These differences can have an immediate effect on the way products are ordered. More importantly, they can have an effect on how they are delivered, which can translate into high costs for non-acute customers and a potential supply chain nightmare.
Non-Acute Versus Acute Facilities
Acute care refers to the traditional hospital setting with facilities for inpatient services for a number of days, or even weeks in extreme cases. These settings provide a variety of departments with specialized treatments usually having an emergency department, surgical suites, special diagnostic and treatment procedures, dietary services and patient rooms for differing levels of inpatient care.
The changing healthcare industry has led to a diverse selection of non-acute care, outpatient, facilities that include home care, physicians' offices, single and multi-specialty clinics, ambulatory surgery centers, specialty treatment service centers, such as dialysis or birthing centers, as well as long term care facilities, retirement homes and rehabilitation centers.
The Differences in Purchasing and Distribution
When we look at the common practices for the purchasing and distribution for non-acute versus acute facilities, we find that it costs far more to service non-acute facilities then it does acute care facilities. According to a Strategic Marketplace Initiative report, some of the common supply chain differences include the following:
Acute Care Facilities
- Many departments with high volumes of orders throughout the facility
- Larger units of measure for quantities such as case and pallets for items such as surgical supplies
- Ongoing receipt of high volumes for multiple SKU's
- More access to storage both departmental and main storage areas
- Designated receiving docks
- Ordering conducted by purchasing managers
- Forecasting often used in the decision making and ordering process
Non-Acute Care Facilities
- Generally low volume of orders scattered across many locations in an area
- Smaller units of measures
- Less SKU's
- Often storage is in exam rooms and in some cases smaller cabinets or storage rooms
- Ordering is conducted by clinical or administrative staff
- Purchase history is not often a factor in the ordering process
- No receiving area
Specific Needs for Non-Acute Facilities
When looking at the higher cost to deliver and service the supply chain needs of non-acute facilities, there are a number of considerations that must be made to become more efficient. The combination of a lack of dedicated receiving space and storage space can lead to the need for replenishment for non-acute facilities every few days or weekly which leads to logistical challenges. This means that non-acute distribution requires:
- Frequent orders
- Lower units of measure
- Fewer full cases
- Longer delivery times
- No bulk or pallets
As you can see, distribution to the non-acute markets can prove far more costly to an IDN than to an acute care setting.
This is especially true when it comes to the delivery of medical equipment of all different sizes and complexity. Non-acute facilities generally do not have dedicated loading docks or easy tractor-trailer delivery access. This can severely restrict how the equipment is delivered to the location. In addition, they rarely have receiving personnel or available storage space. They also rarely have the personnel and tools required to assemble equipment. This means that a direct-to-site delivery process may be required, not just beneficial.
At CME, we service a broad range of customers including both acute and non-acute settings. With over 30 years of experience, we are able to provide logistical delivery services with a keen understanding that there are major differences between the two market segments. We can provide customized medical equipment delivery services to meet the needs of each segment.