Balloons and Stents: Achieving Savings on Coronary Arterial Devices
Approximately 600,000 angioplasty procedures are performed annually in the U.S. Heart patients often undergo balloon angioplasty procedures to open a blocked artery and may have one or more stents implanted to keep the artery open. Three Partners hospitals—BWH, MGH and North Shore Medical Center (NSMC)—perform heart procedures that require balloons or stents for the treatment of blocked coronary arteries.
As part of Partners’ commitment to improve patient affordability by seeking savings and efficiencies while maintaining quality, a team worked to reduce spending on balloons and stents used as part of angioplasty and similar procedures. Each year, Partners spends more than $4 million on these products:
- Balloon catheters to open blocked arteries (Partners uses more than 6,000 coronary balloons each year.)
- Drug-eluting (coated) and bare-metal (uncoated) stents, which prevent coronary arteries from narrowing again following angioplasty (Partners uses more than 3,200 stents a year.)
The challenge was to lower costs with the three major vendors and suppliers of these devices.
A Partners Materials Management team worked with representatives from the cardiovascular labs at BWH, MGH and NSMC. The lab representatives provided guidance on all of the vendor products, best practices in patient care and their own current and future needs.
With some patient affordability projects, Materials Management has recommended consolidating its purchasing to a single vendor. But in this case, “because the technology is constantly changing, we wanted to continue to have access to products from all the major vendors,” said Beth McDonald, MBA, BSN, a member of the advisory group for the project and executive director of Surgical and Procedural Services at BWH.
With data from the lab advisors, Materials Management was able to negotiate with all three major suppliers to achieve the lowest prices possible. The resulting contracts put Partners among the 10 percent of customers in the U.S. who get preferred pricing, saving nearly $850,000.