Archive September 2018 XIX, No. 9

There's That Cataract Van Again

Does outsourcing cataracts make sense for your facility?

Sheila Boland

Sheila Boland, BSN, RN


DRIVE-UP SERVICE A mobile service delivers everything — equipment, supplies, personnel — the Chesterfield (Mo.) Surgery Center needs to perform cataract surgery a few days a month.

The Cataract Van has been pulling up to our facility for 13 years, unloading its precious cargo in our driveway and magically transforming our ORs into sparkling eye suites a few days a month. Be it 5 or 15, when the day’s cases are done, a tech wheels the phaco machine back onto the van and drives off until the next visit.

Welcome to roll-on, roll-off cataracts. The on-demand outsourcing model suits our 2-OR multispecialty surgery center especially well. We do 450-600 cataract cases per year, certainly not an insignificant number, but probably not enough to justify buying our own equipment.

We used to own our own cataract equipment, but in 2005, with cataract case costs rising and reimbursements shrinking, we decided to give outsourcing a try. We’ve been doing so ever since, contracting with a mobile service that provides everything we need to perform cataract surgery around 5 days a month. And I do mean everything — equipment, supplies, intraocular lenses, even a highly trained technician, who always arrives on-time, ready to help make the day run smoothly without any anxiety or frustration for our surgeons and staff.

$31,000 in annual savings

The Cataract Van arrives on the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Tuesday of the month, as well as the 1st Monday of the month. On average, we do 7-10 cases on each of those days. Our outsourcing company charges us $475 to $525 per case, sending one invoice per each date of service. Sound expensive? Well, when you consider that our per-case costs would be around $650 if we went it alone, it’s actually a good deal (see “Each Cataract Case Would Cost Us $649.44”).

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