Orthobiologics is a rapidly expanding supply category that offers tremendous clinical benefits to patients. However, this complex physician preference item presents a unique set of challenges for service line and supply chain leaders to manage.  

Managing orthobiologics is challenging because it spans several different service lines, including orthopedics, podiatry, spine, sports medicine and trauma, with the critical supply chain data spread across the respective cost centers. Orthobiologics also introduces unique requirements associated with managing human-based tissue and synthetic substitutes, such as handling, expiry and sourcing. These factors make this a product category that service line and supply chain leaders should prioritize when planning cost reduction and consolidation projects.  

Here are the primary benefits an orthobiologics initiative offers service line and supply chain leaders:

• Greater clinical understanding of the percentage of active properties that promote bone growth and clinically equivalent products between suppliers. The composition of orthobiologics can vary widely which can ultimately impact patient outcomes. As an orthobiologics assessment conducted by VHA at a hospital in the Southeast revealed, one physician was dismayed to learn that his ‘go-to’ product only had 30 percent active human tissue and the remaining 70 percent was filler. Using VHA’s clinical comparison tool, the service line and physician began research for a new product that would provide a better potential outcome for patients.

• Decrease the risk to the health system, patients and physicians associated with utilizing orthobiologics from non-accredited suppliers. Human tissue is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration with the same criteria applied to medical devices and accreditation is voluntary for tissue processors in the U.S. Because of this, a donor criterion is widely variable with documented instances of some processors using tissue from cancer or other high-risk donors, and donors from outside the U.S. Using an accredited processor mitigates risk by knowing where the tissue is sourced, what types of donors are accepted and how it is processed.

• Understand how to better manage orthobiologics suppliers, supply spend utilization and logistics opportunities. A health system in the Midwest was able to consolidate from 18 suppliers down to one primary supplier for 70 percent of their orthobiologics business. They were also able to consign all of the products, taking the inventory cost off their books. This consolidation enabled the health system to re-establish pars and have more quantity but less stock keeping units on the shelf.

• Benchmark pricing and provide clinical comparisons for value analysis process. Having a clinical comparison tool that includes clinical, quality and outcomes data is key to effectively managing orthobiologics. As requests for new orthobiologics arise, the value analysis team is armed with the proper data, analysis and insights to have an informed conversation with physicians.

At VHA, we understand the unique challenges of managing orthobiologics and have had success assisting service line and supply chain leaders at member hospitals achieve an average of 17 percent cost reduction in this category with support from physicians and clinicians. In addition, these health systems achieved a consolidation from a broad array of suppliers to a primary, reputable and accredited orthobiologics supplier who carries a full product line to meet their needs.

The relentless pursuit for service line strategies that reduce costs while also improving patient outcomes is well worth the effort. To gain actionable insight from VHA subject matter experts, register today for VHA’s complimentary webinar series, Unleash the Potential in Your Services Lines. These monthly, hour-long programs share solutions for success in today’s health care environment. View previously scheduled sessions or register today for upcoming programs.