To reuse or to dispose? That is the question.
In fact, it is a question that has provoked debates and research in healthcare settings for decades. Today, however, experts agree that reusing medical textiles is the optimal method. Some of the primary benefits of reusing medical gowns, linens, and other textiles include maintaining a base level of PPE during conventional and crisis capacity times, improving patient and staff satisfaction, enhancing environmental quality, reducing waste, and finally, controlling costs.
While all of these benefits make a compelling case for choosing reusable medical textiles over disposable medical textiles, this blog will focus on how disposable medical apparel and linens are deflating your bottom line—something that the healthcare industry is taking a more critical look at amid COVID-19, which has decreased patient volumes, disrupted patient flow, and reduced revenue.
A Hard Look at the Numbers
Inventory and supplies are a major cost incurred by healthcare organizations. Outpatient facilities spend 20% of their revenue on supplies1 while larger hospitals and health systems can spend up to one-third of their total operating expenses on supplies and supply chain expenses, which can be millions of dollars. While these supply expenses can include surgical instruments, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and personal protective equipment (PPE), they can also include services like waste management or laundry.
Prior to COVID-19, a 2020 article from the Journal of the American Medical Association examined the waste practices of hospitals, urging them to be minimized wherever possible. It identified that the U.S. health sector spent approximately $5.9 billion on medical waste management in 2014 alone, and any efforts to reduce these costs were focused on avoiding unnecessary or excess care—an area that represents only 6% of healthcare costs. Instead, the article suggests that to create financial (and environmental) sustainability, healthcare organizations must establish a ‘reduce and reuse’ culture. You can adopt that culture in your facility right now by using reusable medical textiles, such as linen supplies and patient apparel.
Real Healthcare Settings, Real Data
In this data breakdown2 from an industry provider comparable to Nixon Medical, we can see how investing in reusable patient gowns, provider scrubs and uniforms, and medical linens can increase your bottom line while reducing the cost of care for patients. In one scenario, an organization saved $360K per year by converting supplies for 20K surgical procedures from disposables to reusables.
Another case study3 detailed the outcomes of a 30-plus hospital system staying with reusable products rather than switching to single-use, disposable isolation gowns. The hospital system saved at least $1.4 million a year, recognizing that single-use isolation gowns cost 25% to 50% more than reusable gowns. Beyond savings from the gowns themselves, this system also saved on costly annual disposal expenses.
Benefits Beyond the Bottom Line
The data speaks for itself when deciding between reusable or disposable medical textiles from a cost perspective. But beyond the bottom line, there are many benefits of using a reusable medical textile program, including enhancing your patient experience through linen, not paper products; decreasing your carbon footprint and overall support of sustainability; increasing the health and safety of patients from reduced waste within your facility; giving your patients and doctors superior barrier protection, and receiving guaranteed sanitation of apparel and linens from an HLAC-accredited laundering facility.
Switching to Reusable Medical Apparel
We know change can be difficult. But when that change brings significant benefits to your clinicians, staff, patients, and bottom line—especially during uncertain times like these—we hope you can agree that this change will be worth it. One of the best ways to introduce this change into your outpatient center or healthcare facility is to start the conversation with your team by educating them on the benefits of reusable medical apparel and medical textiles. Share this blog with them as a starting point.
From there, talk to your current provider or contact Nixon Medical for a reusable cost-savings assessment. We will review your current disposable inventory, usage levels, and patient encounters to see how we can optimize your costs right away. Contact us to start increasing your bottom line today.