Moving to the ‘Rep-Less’ Model For Medical Devices to Save Money and Reduce Risk

Moving to buying medical devices direct from manufacturers can yield huge financial benefits for hospitals. Loma Linda University Medical Center in California drastically eliminated reps in orthopedics after a long internal struggle to do so. They reported savings of about $1 million annually, or 50 percent on the cost of the devices, without affecting outcomes.

Making a move to a rep-less model for acquiring medical devices can definitely yield huge financial benefits. But investments must be made in the proper tools and processes to replace the medical device reps. Hospitals must invest in training for surgical techs to acquire the knowledge previously provided by the reps. They must also put in place systems to properly manage the devices that were previously consigned, or many of the financial benefits may never be realized.

This article found at Kaiser Health News by Sandra B. Goodman discusses the complications of having medical device reps involved in procedures and follows the path of Loma Linda as they moved to remove medical device reps from the equation.

“Two years ago, Gary Botimer, a joint replacement specialist who is chief of orthopedics at Loma Linda, undertook a radical experiment: He got rid of reps in joint replacement cases. Botimer negotiated a steep discount on the price of artificial joints bought in bulk from a well-known American manufacturer and sent hospital surgical techs to the technical training given to device salespeople..”

“After the program was launched in 2014, Botimer said, he and his staff tracked the outcomes of all 500 joint replacement cases for one year to see if the “rep-less model” was equivalent. No difference in outcomes was detected, he said, but the hospital saved $1 million each year. (While standard implants are used in about 90 percent of cases, Loma Linda surgeons are free to use other devices if they believe doing so is in the patient’s best interest.)

The program has been so successful that it is being extended to other orthopedic surgeries, such as trauma and spine operations, he said. Botimer added that he is fielding inquiries from other hospital systems contemplating a similar move.”

Read the entire article here: Medical Device Employees Are Often In The O.R., Raising Concerns About Influence

Moving to the rep-less model certainly seems like it has plenty of benefits if executed properly, as seen at Loma Linda. Hospitals must be prepared for the journey by having the right tools in place to replace the reps when gone. Investing in a medical supply management software system like iRISupply from Mobile Aspects can help hospitals get automated expiration and recall alerts, and better manage their inventory than when reps were placed in charge of this. This can result in a positive return on investment for hospitals looking to change their model.