Converting to Reusable O.R. Textiles

Shelly Petrovskis, Director of Marketing, Lac-Mac Limited

We all know that reusable textile products support a healthy environment, reduce medical waste and costs and deliver excellent protection.  But how can suppliers make it easier for healthcare facilities to make the right choice?  Or, if you’re in a healthcare facility, how can you convince your hospital to make the switch?

Nothing is easy but I have identified six steps which can be taken to help in the process of converting healthcare facilities to reusable textiles.

Step 1:  Identify your Allies and Adversaries
After you identify your allies and adversaries it is important that you aid them in understanding the benefits of reusable textiles to a facility’s bottom line and the patients and surgical teams within that facility. Fact:  O.R. products alone can account for 20% of environmental services budget and they can be in excess of 30% of a facilities total waste.

Step 2:  Take a Simple Approach
Start with a manageable conversion goal by focusing on products that are easiest to transition. I would suggest beginning with surgical gowns, back table covers and Mayo stand covers.  These products are readily available as reusable and their features can easily be matched to disposable items.

Step 3:  Work with your Reusable O.R. Product Supplier
Don’t go it alone. Rely on the expertise of your reusable O.R. product supplier to determine which reusable products are best suited compared to current disposables; determine recommendations for compatible products, outline performance attributes for proposed reusables and highlight the compliance of reusable industry standards.  Don’t forget to include the environmental impact and effects on human health.

Step 4:  Outline Reusable v. Disposable Comparison
Customers who have a lack of understanding about reusable O.R. textiles may be reluctant to change so foster knowledge of reusable textiles by covering the topics below.

    *Cost-per-use comparison.  Prepare a comprehensive cost analysis for your client.  Keep in mind that reusables typically have a higher acquisition cost but a lower cost-per-use cost.
    *Barrier Performance.  Note that reusables are compliant to the same performance standards as disposable; there are no statistics to support statements from single-use product suppliers that disposables contribute to improved patient outcomes in terms of reducing Surgical Site Infections and Healthcare Acquired Infections.
    *Product durability. Due to inferior durability, single-use needs to be double draped.
    *Pack flexibility. Reusables more easily accommodate changes in pack components, whereas disposable packs are often produced months in advance, thus making changes is more difficult.  Also, pack reformulation is a big area of focus due to waste of unused components.
    *Instrument retrieval. Review costs associated with instrument loss that is often overlooked when instruments are inadvertently discarded with disposable drapes. That alone can account for thousands of dollars annually.
    *Sterilization. Include costs associated with sterilization regardless of whether or not you will be providing this service.
    *Disposal Costs. This is a major cost associated with a disposable O.R. program.  Disposal fees are available through Practice Greenhealth or from your O.R. product supplier.  Be sure to include these costs.
    *Barrier textile innovations. Explain to your customers that innovations over the past 30 years have brought high-performance, technically advanced reusable surgical barrier products.

Step 5: Education and Processing / Pack Room Facility Tour
A pack room facility tour is a good opportunity to showcase implemented environmental initiatives. A demonstration aides in the visualization of today’s progressive reprocessing facility in addition to allowing questions to be addressed.

Step 6:  Pilot Reusable Product Trial
Seeing is believing so determine with the customer a reasonable trial duration.  Be sure to address their expectations for a successful outcome.  A successful trial, coupled with demonstrated cost-benefits and environmental advantages will yield a successful conversion to a reusable O.R. textile program.

About the Author

Shelley Petrovskis is the director of marketing for Lac-Mac Limited and has been employed by the company for 32 years in sales and marketing roles.

She has a vast knowledge and experience with emerging market opportunities within the reusable textile product industry.
Petrovskis is actively involved in Practice Greenhealth and ARTA.

The information above was excerpted from an American Reusable Textile Association (ARTA) Webinar.