8 Reasons to Own a Backup Autoclave

Setting up your SPD for Success: 8 Reasons to Own a Backup Autoclave

Steam is the most reliable and effective method for sterilizing medical equipment, and as a result, autoclaves are a fixture in almost every ASC’s sterilization setup. But, as is often the case, there are numerous situations in which ASCs find themselves without sufficient sterile processing capacity or a backup plan for when main units are being repaired or undergoing routine maintenance. To support both the safety of their patients and the needs of their business, ASCs should look to invest in a backup autoclave.

Whether you’re setting up your sterile processing department (SPD) for the first time, or you’re thinking about introducing additional units to a well-established SPD, here are eight ways your ASC can benefit from a backup autoclave.

Reduced SPD Downtime

Unexpected downtime of the SPD is a serious problem for ASCs, as it compromises patient care, delays procedures, leads to unaffordable open slots in surgical schedules, and forces facilities to pay overtime, eating into profits. Having a backup autoclave in place — or even multiple backup units — ensures that surgical instruments and medical devices are always ready to go and safe to use, avoiding disruption to patients’ and physicians’ schedules.

It’s also important to note that like all machines, autoclaves need routine, preventative maintenance (ideally twice a year). Maintenance procedures typically take between one and two days to complete and will require the unit to be decommissioned for the duration. A backup autoclave can prevent productivity from coming to a standstill during this time.

Increased Patient Satisfaction

When your sterilization processes are supported by secondary autoclaving units, your team can more easily provide seamless care for all patients. From preventing undue delays in procedures to taking the time to help patients feel at ease, fostering positive experiences goes a long way toward building trust between your ASC and the patients it serves. And when patients are happy, they’re more likely to recommend your facility to friends and family members, which can lead to an increase in word-of-mouth referrals and a good reputation — all of which is key for attracting new patients.

Improved Operational Efficiency

A backup sterilizer can help your SPD run like a well-oiled machine, ensuring that there’s always a working autoclave on the premises. With a secondary autoclave in place, your staff will no longer need to navigate processing delays or postpone procedures. Instead, they’ll be able to streamline workflows, achieve rapid turnaround times, and focus on what they do best — providing exceptional patient care.

Improved Equipment Maintenance

Backup autoclaves help support sterilization processes (and maintain throughput) when primary units are taken offline for maintenance or repairs. In addition to ensuring that the SPD can continue its work as planned, backup sterilizers provide benefits such as:

  • Fewer breakdowns and maintenance requests — By reducing the amount of stress placed on primary equipment, secondary autoclaves can help improve the longevity of your sterilization setup.
  • Cost-savings — With fewer repairs and maintenance calls needed, your facility can save money, leading to improved overall profitability.
  • Reduced downtime — When your primary machines operate reliably, it’s much easier for your ASC to keep up with sterilization needs.

Choosing the right autoclave manufacturer can also optimize maintenance. Manufacturers that use non-proprietary parts for their equipment make it easier to source replacement parts, and those that offer preventative maintenance plans can dramatically reduce the risk of unexpected downtime.

Increased Patient Volumes

In order for an ASC to grow its business, it needs to meet certain conditions, including having the available capacity to accommodate increased patient volumes while still achieving rapid turnaround times. Backup autoclaving units play a major role in supporting a reliable and efficient sterilization process by maintaining output, even as demand grows.

Adding backup sterilizers to your ASC is well worth the investment. With capacity to spare, surgeries can proceed as scheduled and your ASC can see a steady flow of patients — and more patients translates to increased revenue and profitability. With an improved bottom line, your facility can invest in additional equipment to help grow your business even further.

Increased Staff Confidence

Employee turnover can be a major expense on an ASC’s balance sheet, with recent data from the Society for Human Resource Management placing the average cost per hire at $4,700.

Surgeons, RNs, and technicians who are confident in their roles and face few obstacles on a daily basis typically feel satisfied professionally and are less likely to seek employment elsewhere. One such obstacle that ASCs can easily eliminate is a lack of available sterilizer capacity. Backup autoclaves ensure that staff have what they need to do their jobs, ensuring the availability of essential equipment. This has the added benefit of preventing backlogs from forming, which could lead to patient dissatisfaction and cause staff to feel frustrated or overwhelmed.

Whether you’re purchasing your very first autoclave or selecting a backup unit for your ASC, be sure to look for a sterilizer that’s easy to operate. That way, technicians can focus on sterilizing medical devices and instruments as quickly as possible rather than try to navigate complex machinery.

More Efficient Forecasting

Secondary sterilization units support sustainable business growth by ensuring that ASCs have the overflow capacity they need, exactly when they need it. With this solid foundation, administrators can more confidently:

  • Accommodate increased patient volumes
  • Develop business strategies and reliable financial forecasts
  • Invest in new equipment
  • Consider the viability of expanding services, which can increase profitability over time

With sufficient sterilization capacity, administrators can plan for — and invest in — their facility’s future.

Meet Sustainability Goals

Sustainability is a hot topic for ASCs, both for environmental and financial reasons. By reducing energy and water consumption — both sizable line items for most facilities — ASCs can control costs while meeting sustainability goals.

Having immediate access to auxiliary autoclaving equipment ensures that, in the event of primary equipment failure, ASCs can carry on without having to rely on temporary, single-use sterilization methods, which may consume significant amounts of water and energy. Backup autoclaves also enable ASCs to strategically schedule sterilization cycles, optimizing load cycles and minimizing energy consumption. This efficient resource utilization aligns with sustainability goals by reducing unnecessary use of utilities and limiting environmental impact.

When choosing a secondary sterilizer, be sure to look for one with built-in sustainability solutions — this will help your ASC conserve water and energy without having to make any additional purchases.

Setting Up Your SPD for Success

From reduced downtime and increased efficiency to enhancements to your revenue and bottom line, a backup autoclave — or even multiple backup autoclaves — can offer significant benefits to your ASC. Whether you’re planning on making improvements to your existing sterilization setup or establishing a brand new SPD, a backup unit should always be a part of your strategy.

If you have questions about your sterilization goals or need help realizing the potential of the SPD at your ASC, our team of autoclave experts is here to help. Contact us to start the conversation or request a quote today!

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