How Hospitals Can Help Offset the Rising Costs of Heart Valve Replacement Surgery

Due to an aging population, the number of patients with heart valve disease requiring valve replacement is expected to rise, reaching more than 800 000 annual procedures worldwide by 2050. The total cost of these surgeries is expected to grow by 10% through 2025, reaching over $10 billion. The cost of an average heart valve to hospitals is between $4,000 and $40,000, making up a large chunk of the revenue to the hospital of $80,000 to $200,000 per procedure.

In order to protect their margins on these procedures, hospitals must be vigilant in both managing and charging for their heart valve and TAVR/TAVI devices for each procedure. We often see that hospitals manage high-cost implants, such as valves, the same way as the rest of the general inventory. Most hospitals use traditional methods that rely on manual input and leave significant room for human error. A single expired valve or a missed charge on a valve costs a hospital thousands of dollars per incident, and the traditional methods of inventory management allow these events to happen more often than we’d like to believe. While systems fraught with human error may be manageable for low-cost supplies, they will lead to extremely negative financial outcomes when expensive devices like heart valves are managed the same way.

Solutions such as iRISupply supply and implant tracking software from Mobile Aspects aim to minimize human error in the inventory management and charge capture space by moving to automated technology.  Software solutions like this use RFID technology to automatically assign each implant to the proper patient in the electronic medical record and generate an order to replace the implant. Additionally, reports can be automatically generated and sent electronically to notify the department’s inventory manager well in advance that an item is due to expire and can also provide real-time alerts if an expired item is taken for use in a procedure. In fact, one major academic medical center that uses iRISupply has gone over 3 years without a single heart valve expiring on its shelves.

If your hospital is still relying on manual systems or even barcode-based systems to manage expensive inventory like heart valves, it’s time to switch to a better inventory management system like iRISupply. With savings from reduced expirations and increased charge capture, the system will quickly pay for itself.