AORN Blog - The Periop Life

OR Nurses: How to Develop an Effective Purchasing Plan


OR Nurses: How to Develop an Effective Purchasing Plan

August 20, 2018     

You have the insight and expertise to assist surgeons and your facility in purchasing equipment and surgical supplies that are both cost-effective and user-friendly. Now you just need a plan to flex your purchasing power.

Yes, budgets are tight and there is competition within the staff ranks to gain budget approvals, but have you considered your value and influence in the final purchasing decisions? Are your supplies and equipment needs being met or do you feel you are just not being heard?

With strategic involvement in an interdisciplinary and forward-thinking product evaluation committee, all stakeholders can share and understand surgical equipment and supply needs and available funding to get everyone on the same page for the best buy.

These three actions will help your team create a more structured case for surgery purchasing requests to shift budgetary decisions in your favor.

1. Develop an interdisciplinary team that includes these key organizational decision-makers to review supply and equipment requests:

  • C-Suite leaders who can communicate the organization’s strategic plan for purchasing and replacing equipment.
  • Perioperative leaders who can be involved in the capital budgeting process.
  • Surgeons (and company representatives) who can communicate purchasing needs.
  • Biomedical engineering leaders who can share estimated equipment replacement needs during the capital budgeting process.
  • Frontline nurses who can weigh in on use-specific product needs and qualities.

With this team of stakeholders well-coordinated, it’s most effective to have a request come straight from the user. This could be a nurse or a surgeon (avoid company representatives speaking on behalf of surgeons to prevent miscommunication). To make this request process work…

2. Establish (and enforce) a standardized structure for the user to request supplies or equipment that includes:

  • User (nurse or surgeon) narrative with supporting clinical outcomes data from other organizations or research studies.
  • Organizational strategy alignment to confirm the requested equipment is necessary to advance the strategic purchasing plan of the organization.
  • Financial impact estimate to address capital cost, associated disposables cost, and revenue impact.
  • Procedure(s) for which equipment will be used, including CPT code when available, as well as confirmation regarding inpatient versus outpatient application, and new or existing procedure.
  • If the surgical equipment will be used for a new procedure, what is the expected duration of the procedure for which this equipment will be used, how will equipment use influence staffing requirements, and how will adding this equipment impact other departments?
  • Additional patient needs or services following equipment application.
  • Educational considerations expected for perioperative personnel to use and maintain the equipment.

3. Collect input from the frontline by asking: Can the new supply or product be…

  • Correctly used by all team members (including appropriate fit such as gloves or warm-up jackets)?
  • Trialed to compare team preference (such as smoke evacuation technology)?
  • Maintained safely and effectively according to the manufacturer instructions for use (such as devices that require cleaning and reprocessing)?

If you are looking for additional help to strengthen your periop-specific product evaluation, refer to AORN’s Guideline for Product Selection.

Sign up to be notified when registration opens for the 2019 Leadership Summit in Nashville next April to get tips and tricks for refining your purchasing evaluation team strategy.