Mission Accomplished: Suturing up a $42,000 savings in the OR

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in an occasional series on creative, clever teammates who have found ways to save Roper St. Francis money as part of Mission 2020. 

Minimally invasive surgery has been a game changer in medicine.

For patients, it means a smaller incision and speedier recovery. But for the hospital purchasing department it can mean special, and often expensive, surgical products, such as the Carter Thompson suture passer, which surgeons often use to close a laparoscopic incision.

That is, until the dynamic duo of Jennie Yager and Lisa Pritcher started doing a little VAT operating.

Yager, a Contract Analyst who oversees the peri-op and cardiac imaging value analyst teams (VAT), noted that this particular suture product, at $109 a pop, cost the system more than $55,000 annually, so she asked her peri-op VAT clinical folks if there might be an equally functional but less expensive alternative.  With their input, Yager did a little market research and found some options. Then came product testing time — which entailed mixing and matching various components to find optimal quality and function. They found a version that did the same quality job, but cost only $28.95 per device.

Then, the hard part.

“Getting the doctor buy-in was the real challenge,” Yager said. In fact, a similar effort to find a less costly alternative had been attempted a few years earlier, but there wasn’t enough momentum to get the doctors on board.  That’s where Jennie leaned on the persuasive energy of Lisa Pritcher, RNFA and robotics coordinator at Roper, whose 33 years working in RSF operating rooms gave her plenty of street cred with the surgeons. “I just said, ‘let me have a crack at it’,” said Lisa, who then pinpointed a few doctors who she knew would be open to trying it.

“It wasn’t too hard, I just had to show them that it worked just as well as the device they were used to. Once these robotic surgeons gave it a thumbs-up, it was easy to get the others on board,” says Pritcher. “The surgeons have been great; they’re working hard to ensure their patients and the hospital both get top value.”

The end result: patients with small (but equally well-sutured) incisions, and a hospital with a $42,000 cost savings.

The Mission Accomplished team thinks that’s “minimally invasive” at its best.  Thank you, and congrats to Jennie and Lisa. Keep operating!

Click here to read other Mission Accomplished stories.

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