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The Impact of PPI Costs

A study published last year in Medical Devices: Evidence and Research reports that physician preference items (PPI) comprise anywhere from 40 to 60 percent of a hospital’s total supply expenditures and, interestingly, points out that physician preference is no different than that of, say, professional athletes who have favorite equipment and vendors.

The physician’s choice of a given PPI may not be closely tied to the product’s cost, which can thwart hospital cost containment efforts, the study notes, adding, “There is thus great interest in understanding (and perhaps influencing) physician’s preference among implants and other PPIs.”1

Indeed, the topic of PPI was front and center this past summer at AHRMM19 in San Diego, where Jonathan Worsey, MD, a colon and rectal surgeon who leads value analysis at Scripps Health in nearby La Jolla, Calif., was among a number of providers who shared their stories for reducing variation and driving toward standardization of PPI — stories that begin and end with proper communication and active participation to and among physicians. In telling the Scripps Health story2, here are a few best practices and tips along the way Dr. Worsey had to share.

Physician Communication

Physician communication and active participation are critical for successful value analysis, Dr. Worsey emphasizes, although pointing out, “Most physicians do not hear ‘value analysis.’ They hear, ‘administration just wants to cut costs.’” This, he asserts, is among a number of reasons why the best people to communicate with physicians are other clinicians — “people who speak the language.”

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He advocates having structures in place to effectively communicate goals, share data and receive feedback, and involve physicians in decision making, offering these seven rules for a successful value analysis meeting with physicians:

  1. Have the right people in the room — leaders and decision makers — and not too many.
  2. Provide advance notice of what will be discussed, plus information/data to be reviewed — information must be clear, believable and understandable.
  3. Emphasize overriding goals — that is, to improve patient care and fulfill the hospital mission, not simply to control costs and save money.
  4. Identify how everyone can meet their goals and ensure a win for all concerned.
  5. Invite everyone’s point of view, and discuss in a collegial manner.
  6. Be open to new ideas and creative thinking.
  7. Agree upon next steps — what, by whom and when.


Tips for Engaging with Physicians

The fact is, physicians are busier than they’ve ever been, Dr. Worsey points out, and they’re facing the same financial, regulatory and reporting pressures and scrutiny that hospitals and health systems do. With this in mind, he offers very practical, tactical suggestions for communicating with and engaging physicians:

  • Identify physicians’ preferred means of contact — email, meetings, newsletters, etc.
  • Keep messages succinct, including the title line.
  • Avoid corporate speak and acronyms.
  • Reserve communications for only the important messages and when this is the case, request a confirmation that they’ve received the communication and make sure they have a clear call-to-action if a decision is required.
  • Choose wisely physician leaders to serve as champions — someone engaged “who you know agrees with you,” is respected, and is still in practice.
  • Establish a structure for physician champions to communicate with colleagues — for example, by section, division or care line.
  • Commit to giving physicians the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process, with the caveat that consensus – not unanimity – is required.

Download the full article below to learn more, including how the value analysis team at Scripps Health established an approval process for new product requests and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by reviewing, updating and maintaining doctor preference cards (DPCs).

Download Article Now

To learn more about what Suture Express may be able to do for you, visit us at or call 877-790-1873.


1 “Physician preference items: what factors matter to surgeons? Does the vendor matter?” by Lawton R. Burns, Department of Health Care Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Michael G. Housman, Singularity University, Moffett Field, Calif.; Robert E. Booth, 3B Orthopaedics, Langhorne, Pa.; and Aaron M. Koenig, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Wang Ambulatory Care Center, Boston; Medical Devices: Evidence and Research, 2018.

2 AHRMM19, “Value Analysis: The Practicing Physician Perspective”

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