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Simplifying The Management Of Your Hospital Supply Item Master

We recently hosted a 30-minute webinar focused on the hospital supply item master. What follows is our summary of the highlights and takeaways from that discussion.

As with any process, the key to maximum productivity is simplifying processes and using the right tools. The other key we emphasized right out of the gate is assuring confidence with the pricing data you're working with.


The shortest route to building pricing confidence is by leveraging data to identify cost to charge variance outliers. Our chargemaster management tools can help you analyze the cost vs charge and tell you the percentage of variance quickly — this is a great place to start.

Using filters to focus in on the cost to charge comparison, you can easily identify if anything needs a deeper look, and make sure pricing is where it should be. Yes, sometimes there are valid reasons for a reduced price: but this high-level comparison gives you the ability to rapidly discover which items might require a more comprehensive review.

Benchmarking Prices Using Statistics

Another pricing confidence booster: employing statistics to reveal comparative pricing. A review of selected peers’ pricing can expose concerns in percentage variance. Our tools use data from the Medicare Standard Analytical File (SAF), and allow you to select your peers, so you can choose hospitals of similar size or those in your local area – or peers that provide similar procedures or supplies. Consider what your price looks like compared to your peers for the same CPT codes.

The added benefit is that peer comparison can give you a good idea of what range your prices fall into — are you right in the middle, low, or on the high side? With the new pricing transparency mandates, it's likely that more people will start looking at your numbers, so you’ll want to have data-driven evidence that your pricing is in line with peers and better support for future pricing decisions.

Another Peer Pricing Perk

VitalCDM also averages all the peer prices against how many times a procedure is performed or a supply is used. This means you can see precisely where you fall amongst the average of your peers – not simply compared with one-offs. It's a comparison that gives you extra confidence. Our solution gives you the detailed data, allowing you to see if there is one peer who is perhaps skewing the average. For example, a peer that does a high volume of a procedure, and has moved their price really low, could be dragging the average down. You may want to exclude that particular supplier in your analysis. With this data you have the opportunity to make an informed pricing decision.


Often, hospitals find their supplies are managed from different areas, and having a good way to visualize exactly what’s going on is a challenge. Having tiered pricing in your chargemaster is a great way to reduce overall chargemaster size, however, tiering can leave you with a lack of clarity. It can result in too many unknowns about what falls into a particular tier at a particular price.

Other times, you may have supplies with their own files and data tracking methods, making it difficult to compare to your regular supply file. Similarly, if you’re part of a big health system and you have supplies maintained at individual hospitals, each with their own supply storage and supply data, it’s a big challenge to see what’s going on across your entire health system.

Better Together

Vitalware tools provide a great way to link all those files together. Linked files give you the power to view across various data sources, and improve your comfort level with the full set of information that’s out there. This also enhances your overall vision for supply levels across different sources. You can even view across all areas and hospitals by using a “like factor” – like a CPT code, procedure code, or even your supply ID – to link data together. Any factors present in both your chargemaster and your supply item master can be used as a linking mechanism.


Compliance is critical, but not always easy. However, using a data analysis tool helps you more quickly identify possible compliance concerns. Automatic reports can help you root out expired HCPCS codes while providing replacement options. VitalCDM can do this analysis for you, and it can be set to run every time you import data, or on a customized schedule. In a VitalCDM environment, it's all connected to and scrubbed by our referential libraries (VitalKnowledge), to give you the best possible suggested replacements.

In addition to expired codes, you'll want reports that help you identify mismatched codes like revenue codes that may not be "best practice" for the assigned HCPCS. In VitalCDM, reports provide suggested alternatives, supported by statistics. And when the suggested revenue code may not be the only acceptable code, our tool shows you the various options that could make sense.

The revenue statistics driving the options presented are what Medicare has accepted, and show what percent of the time they're accepted, based on the SAF. In sum, Vitalware will flag something that doesn’t meet best practices, and give your users extra information, empowering your team to make an informed decision based on their knowledge and familiarity with the use case.

Expanded Reporting Aids Compliance

Another beneficial report is a “HCPCS to supply” or “HCPCS to procedure” comparison: this identifies your HCPCS codes requiring devices and suggests the appropriate device(s). For added ease, this report also determines if the devices already exist in your CDM.

Sometimes, the way Medicare rules work, any device will be accepted — but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most appropriate. You certainly want to be compliant, so our tool suggests devices that are proper choices to use with that particular procedure. We built and maintain this proprietary data set of related devices at Vitalware.


Many people have terrific supply management tools... but, without a solid workflow, they don’t have an easy way to audit and build-out those supplies in their supply item master. This can be a daunting task. When you're discussing supply management, using a workflow tool may not be what you think of right off the bat, but it absolutely helps to start out with the right information, right from the beginning, then set up routing to send the required data to the right people for approval.

Workflow is not a one size fits all proposition; it must be customizable for your needs. A strong workflow tool allows hospitals to define the fields of data they want to collect, and also requires those fields to be populated by people who know best – before that information is passed forward. At Vitalware, we will build out customized, interactive fields that permit users to populate the information they want or require. These tools can support workflow on any file that you load.

Distinct Choices and Tracking Smooth the Process

The Vitalware workflow system also has a list response with distinct choices. This creates consistent data results and eliminates situations where some people insert a capital “Y” and some people type the whole word “yes” in lowercase. Managing data efficiently means putting it in a consistent format. It may be something simple, such as latex-free, yes or no – or more subjective items where you have the ability to add instructions around the field. The process is simplified by getting the information from the people who know it best to the people who need it, without the back and forth of a bunch of emails.

History Helps

Another great thing about an integrated workflow tool? Getting a solid tracking and audit history. A strong workflow solution can capture a complete history of the request approval process, including timelines for audit. For example, it can show that a particular request goes from the originator to the department manager, to the purchasing manager, to final approval by the CDM coordinator in an average of 7.91 days. Knowing where a process takes extra time can help you find where to apply some effort to make it more efficient. You can also keep track of who asked for what to refer to if needed in the future.

These are some of the ways to simplify your supply item master management. Doing all this manually can be a huge task. Vitalware tools will definitely save you considerable time and effort.


To see what VitalCDM can do for your team and your supply item master, schedule a consultation. We'll be happy to walk you through the capabilities specific to your needs.