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Step 1: Gather information on current suppliers

Gather together details on how you currently buy goods and services is the first step to saving the practice money, advises Nick Coleman.

Buying goods and services to keep the surgery running might be way down your priority list. But poor 'procurement' (purchasing or buying) could be putting a large dent in practice profits, and you really do not need that at a time when many practices generally are tightening their belts by reducing GPs' monthly drawings.

Cost-effective buying

In this seven-part series, I will show you how to develop a cost-effective strategy covering everything the practice buys - from clinical and non-clinical consumables (latex gloves and stationery, for example) to assets such as diagnostic equipment, furniture and services like cleaning, insurance and energy.

In most sectors and especially in healthcare, procurement is the poor relation. It may sound dull or even daunting although it is not just about buying.

Good procurement involves thinking strategically, building relationships with suppliers and other purchasers, reducing risk, maximising cost-efficiency - in short, supporting all parts of your business.

This series covers the key steps for reducing costs including 'sussing out' the tricks sales staff use and reducing risks to your cash. 

 By following these steps, your practice may be able to make cost-savings of up to 50 per cent on what it currently spends.

The first step is to review what the practice is currently spending money on, how and where. Use the breakdown of items in the income and expenditure section of your annual accounts to establish the different cost categories and 'capture' product details from recent invoices.

Quick wins

When you have done this, rate each category in terms of complexity, the level of spend, the time period over which you want to generate savings and the percentage reduction you want.

Focus your efforts initially on quick wins in high-spend categories.

BUY WISELY PLAN

STEP 1 Gather information.

STEP 2 Build a successful money-saving strategy.

STEP 3 Know the market and how to find the right suppliers.

STEP 4 Evaluate suppliers to ensure they can meet your expectations.

STEP 5 Negotiate on price.

STEP 6 Put your money-saving strategy to work.

STEP 7 Review the savings made and find out what you can do better in the future.

  • Nick Coleman is a director of healthcare sector procurement specialists ProCure Health Ltd

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