5 Tips Towards a Smarter Financial Healthcare System

Healthcare Tips

This past spring, the healthcare industry was clobbered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Resources were stretched to the limit and there was not nearly enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep medical staff or patients safe. We have seen medical professionals wear bandanas as makeshift masks, and trash bags in place of gowns — heightening the risk of infection and possibly death. As cases continue to explode, so do concerns about pushing our healthcare system beyond its capability. Healthcare administrators need innovative solutions to reduce operational expenses while simultaneously ensuring ample resource availability to cope with the next health crisis. Sound like an oxymoron? We’re here to help. Here are five tips you can implement to improve your inventory management and keep a handle on supply costs:

1. Collect Data from the Supply Chain

Failing to use supply chain data can result in billions of wasted dollars, yet many hospitals and medical centers are still using less sophisticated manual processes like Excel spreadsheets to manage inventory, supply expenses and other supply chain activities. An analysis by Navigant Consulting, estimates that hospitals could save an average of 17.7 percent or $11 million per hospital annually by standardizing their supply chain processes. Using value-based reimbursement models, organizations can more accurately link supplies needed and patient outcomes.

2. Clearly Organize Responsibilities

It’s time to Marie Kondo your inventory of supplies, because we all know that saving time and money sparks joy! Firstly, your team should aim to reduce wasted materials by getting organized – place products nearing expiration towards the front of facility closets. Additionally, get your team onboard by ensuring responsibilities are clearly outlined. Everyone who comes in direct contact with medical supplies should fully understand his or her role in healthcare inventory management. From cleaning rooms, to ordering supplies, or checking purchase orders for accuracy, so many hospital staff members contribute to successful inventory management. Establishing clear communication is the first step to avoiding confusion between departments.

3. Analyze Usage Vs. Order Frequency

Understanding precisely how much of a certain item you are ordering per week, month, or quarter compared to how much of that item you are using in the same timeframe is key to avoiding waste, saving valuable dollars, and planning for success. Another best practice tip? Don’t just assume if you ordered 10,000 units of a product last quarter, you should place that same order again. Make periodic adjustments to your ordering patterns based on the result of the last analysis.

4. Upgrade Hospital Inventory Technology

Are some of your management tools outdated? Sit down with your management team and identify the biggest issues you experienced in your inventory management, from software to computer equipment. Finding the limitations in your technology is a good way to determine if purchasing a new technology is necessary, or if new procedures need to be created. For example, you can create a streamlined tracking process by investing in an automated system that utilizes barcodes and RFID tags with unique identification numbers for each inventory item. Medical staff can scan the barcodes with mobile scanners and trust the data will be stored in the system; at the same time, the automatic data capture ensures accurate reporting for charting and inventory purposes. Automated inventory management systems can also identify whether products have been recalled or damaged. By adopting a more sophisticated digital platform, you can create a more balanced, prepared environment.

5. Time to Get Lean!

No, we are not talking about the “quarantine 15” though – we can relate. We’re referring to implementing a lean strategy to generate savings and create a better understanding of your costs. Lean teams generally aim to create standardized protocols, cut waste and develop cultures of continuous improvement that allow hospitals to adapt to rapid changes in the healthcare system. But despite proven results, the majority of health systems are not using the Lean method. In 2016, Caldwell Memorial Hospital in North Carolina, for instance, reported that it saved $2.62 million over two months with a lean strategy.

We understand it’s an incredibly challenging moment in history for the healthcare community and every dollar counts.

We want to help you be more equipped for the ongoing pandemic and future challenges. The dedicated staff at RBT is here to help answer any personalized questions you have regarding the way your team is running your healthcare system.

The Latest PPP Update Breakdown

PPP Loan Forgiveness Update

As a small business owner, you likely view The Paycheck Protection Program as a crucial lifeline that’s helped you weather the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

As you know, PPP loans were designed to be forgiven, provided the loan proceeds were used for “eligible expenses” like payroll costs, rent, utilities and mortgage interest. While the forgiveness of the PPP loan is tax-free, new guidance issued by the IRS requires that business owners not deduct the eligible expenses in 2020. So, while a business owner may not have applied for PPP loan forgiveness just yet, if a business “reasonably believes” the loan will be forgiven in the future, costs funded with the loan are not deductible for 2020, according the IRS. In the November 18th release, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin explained this clarification, citing that since businesses are not taxed on the proceeds of a forgiven PPP loan, the expenses are not deductible. “This results in neither a tax benefit nor tax harm since the taxpayer has not paid anything out of pocket,” said Mnuchin. According to this current update, you and your business can only take advantage of the expense deduction if your loan isn’t forgiven (and isn’t going to be forgiven). So, is all hope lost for this new guidance to be reversed? Not quite. One thing that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seem to agree on, is that they disagree with this guidance. Currently, The Small Business Expense Protection Act of 2020 has bipartisan support. If passed – it will mean a significant difference to your 2020 taxes.

 So what can you do?

At RBT, our firm is hard at work writing letters and sending them out to our representatives in Washington. We are requesting that they approve the proposed legislation (Senate (S.3612 sponsored by Senator Cornyn (R-TX) and House (H.R. 6821 sponsored by Representative Holding (R-NC) or H.R. 6754 sponsored by Representative Fletcher (D-TX)) to make eligible expenses that were forgiven deductible. We recommend you do the same. Click here for a list of NY senators and representatives you can email. To save time, please feel free to copy and paste the template below:

All Americans have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and your actions in Congress have provided much-needed relief to millions of struggling businesses. I am writing to you to ask you to continue the important work that will allow small business owners in my community to succeed.

I strongly encourage you to include in any year-end, must-pass legislation language that will allow millions of small business owners a tax deduction for expenses paid with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgiven loans. Bills introduced in the Senate and in the House would ensure that PPP loan recipients are provided the full benefits intended in the CARES Act.

It is important for you to ensure the same businesses that have been struggling to survive while adhering to constantly fluctuating shutdowns are not also subject to additional and unexpected taxes as they continue to face an extraordinarily challenging financial year.

Passing this legislation as swiftly as possible will provide small business owners more confidence as they focus on business planning strategies to weather the pandemic. 

As always, RBT is here to support the small businesses that make our community so vibrant and welcoming.

If you have specific questions pertaining to this latest IRS clarification, please do not hesitate to reach out for further discussion with one of our dedicated team members today.