Clarus Healthboards, 12,016 AD (10,000 years from now…)
–“We found a Clarus Healthboard that indicates this ancient wall was once part a hospital.”
–“Seriously? They had Clarus Healthboards back then? By the way, what’s a hospital?”
For hospitals, providing affordable and quality care can often seem like divergent, if not contrary goals: While expanding patient access to affordable care involves prudent management of costs, improving the quality of that care generally involves increases in spending. Negotiating the optimum relation between cost and quality emerges as an overriding need of the healthcare industry. Clarus designs Healthboard visual display systems that help hospitals achieve that critical balance.
Confronted with exponential increases in healthcare costs, governments and healthcare insurers around the world have initiated cost-control measures that have in turn placed increasing fiscal strain on hospital spending. While public hospitals operate on increasingly tighter budgets, private hospitals face restrictions and decreases in reimbursements from both private- and government-managed insurance plans. As cost controls continue to place pressure on hospital budgets, hospitals must adopt new and wiser means of allocating resources for the purchase of medical equipment. Maintaining an effective budgeting strategy will require developing new models for assessing the long-term value of medical products against their immediate costs.
These decisions take on particular complexity in the healthcare industry, where 17% of operating expenditures go to medical supplies, the large portion of which consists of the purchase of consumable goods. Consumables—the often-disposable products designed for short-term use—serve an essential role in the delivery of medical service. In fact, compared to other industries, healthcare, by its very nature, is particularly dependent on consumables goods.
To get an idea of healthcare’s reliance on consumable goods, consider a common check up. Even a typical, 15-minute office visit can involve an extensive litany of disposables: Plastic gloves, thermometer probe covers, paper bed covers, tongue depressors, cotton wisps, cotton swabs, face masks, band-aids, disposable syringes (in the case of vaccinations), and gauze. While the latter list presents the more familiar store of routine “check-up” disposables, it constitutes just a fraction of a hospital’s collective arsenal of consumable supply needs: plaster-of-paris bandages, sterile and non-sterile infant feeding tubes, ryle’s tubes, plastic aprons, crepe bandages, spinal needles, corrugated drains, gelatin sponges and hypoattesic paper tape—and this list doesn’t begin to touch on the cost of medications. A quick scan of this list should explain the healthcare industry’s dependence on consumables: The fundamental protocols of hygiene and contamination control inherently restricts the re-use of most medical supplies: “If given the choice, I would just assume not opting for recycled band aids.”
While essential in medical care, consumables place particular strain on hospital budgets. As temporary-use products, consumables require regular replacement. And the regular replacement of supplies entails variable fluctuations in cost. The need and price for consumables can rise, creating unanticipated expenses. And uncertainties of cost lead to disabling restrictions in hospital budgets. Generally speaking, the business world prefers fixed costs. For example, if you open a bakery it is better to buy an oven than rent an oven or pay to have a cake baked offsite and pay by the cake—fixed costs are a hallmark of scale.
In England, the National Audit Office (NAO) said 165 of the country’s hospital trusts could save £500m–that’s or over $700m—if they improved their procurement practices for consumables. For items like medical gloves this could be accomplished by consolidating purchases on a weekly basis, or using ‘just in time’ supply management—purchase as needed—a pratice which appears to be little used in the health service.
However, for larger items, such as patient communication tools like whiteboards, moving towards fixed investments like glass represents a significant cost-savings measure. As we have seen in previous studies, Clarus Healthboards provide greater safety against hand contamination and enhance the quality of interpersonal connections between patients and providers. Both benefits simultaneously improve the quality of care while lowering lower long term costs.
Moreover, as a fixed investment, Clarus Healthboards also cut down on the long-term costs of whiteboard replacement. Composed of plastic, whiteboards don’t hold up well against the high-use demands of hospital environments. Consider the statistics:
- 93% of users say that traditional whiteboards last less than seven years
- 45.4% of traditional whiteboards last 4 years or less
- 27.2% of traditional whiteboards last 2 years or less
- 70% of traditional whiteboards are replaced due to discoloration
Clarus Healthboards, on the other hand, operate as an integral part of the facility and architecture; they do not suffer discoloration, nor do they develop the toxic buildup that one finds in the use of dry-erase marker ink. Tempered for safety, capable of sustaining a 6500lb load, Clarus Healthboards are designed to last as long as the healthcare facility itself. Over two decades, hospitals will spend $2,065.24 replacing whiteboards and dealing with hidden costs. With a Clarus Healthboard, hospitals will save $1,162.81 over the same period.
It’s a commonplace of economic wisdom: Careful spending does not inherently mean going cheap. Short-sighted thrift can lead to greater costs in the long-term. The math isn’t complicated: That cheap $1 bottle of surface cleaner saves little money if it requires 3 times the amount to do the same job as a quality $2 brand. Still, the pressures of scarcity can obscure the actual cost of apparent bargains. True budgetary prudence involves spending the right amount of money on the right products. Clarus incorporates calculated attention to the long-term cost benefits of high-quality materials and design. Enhancing the quality of care at lower long-term cost, investment in Clarus Healthboards reconcile the seeming contradiction between affordability and quality.