The biologics used in spine surgery belong to a complex and often overlooked category. Hospital supply chain professionals frequently encounter significant challenges when attempting to reduce costs and consolidate biologics vendors. One reason that hospital supply chain efforts often fail to influence meaningful change is that biologics product choices are mostly physician-preference driven. With over 20 years of experience in hospital supply chain management, and having conducted 50+ biologic-specific RFPs, I have found the following steps incredibly helpful in reducing biologics costs while maintaining positive clinical outcomes:
Biologics have varying technologies and indications for use, as well as a wide range of available clinical evidence. For example, bone grafts represent a subcategory of biologics that are widely used in spinal fusion surgeries, which is typically a high-cost procedure. Bone grafts are further organized into four categories: demineralized bone matrix (DBM), stem cell allografts, growth factor/peptide allografts, and synthetics. Excluding synthetics, most subcategories are produced using human bone. Start by grouping biologics by these main subcategories.
This step involves aligning with your clinical teams on the value of available technologies to price. For example, I have seen multiple hospitals and IDNs lower costs and maintain or improve physician satisfaction for lumbar fusion procedures by switching to more cost-effective technologies with similar or greater clinical evidence.
Many companies in the biologics space have very limited portfolios, and often offer just one product in the biologics category. By choosing biologics vendors that offer a broad portfolio of products, your surgeons will have access to a wide range of technologies to match the needs of the patient, while the supply chain department can more effectively control costs.
Following these three steps will help you on the journey to making sense of your biologics use and spend. If you would like to discuss this further or have any questions, I am always happy to help. You can reach me at John.Gallagher@BioventusGlobal.com.
John Gallagher is a Strategic Sourcing Manager for Bioventus Surgical. John is a certified healthcare supply chain professional with a Masters in Hospital Administration and 20+ years of experience in hospital supply chain management. He is adept at value analysis processes and has significant experience with benchmarking, reporting, and business intelligence.