Sterile processing

Sterile Processing Outsourcing

by Steve Flowers, RN

Sterile Processing Outsourcing…. sounds like a great idea, but is it?  Some facilities have tried it with a mixed bag of success; however, for many others, it just didn’t work.  Our objective with this blog is to unwrap opposing philosophies on this fascinating concept.   In Part A we will explore “WHAT” motivates organizations to wave the white flag and hire a third party to manage their Sterile Processing Departments.    Part B offers some insight into “WHY” they sometimes fail.   


Why do Healthcare Organizations Consider SPD Outsourcing?   Here are the top 3 reasons why:

  1. QUALITY:  This is the NUMBER 1 reason customers inquire about Sterile Processing Outsourcing.  Countless years of high staff and management turnover, physician complaints, high error and infection rates, high instrumentation and equipment repair, and replacement spend, and a general lack of expertise and consistency are all valid reasons to consider SPD Outsourcing. 
  2. SPACE:  OK, let us start with the most obvious reason why full or partial SPD outsourcing makes sense.   You have simply run out of real estate and there is nowhere to go but “out”.   This analysis implies that you have maximized all efficiency opportunities and your department can’t manage the daily volume from a space and equipment perspective.  
  3. COST/ ROI:  Someone in the organization has been led to believe that SPD Outsourcing is a cost-saving strategy.   Folks, don’t shoot the messenger, but cost savings is a misguided motivation for SPD Outsourcing!  


SPD Outsourcing Sounds like a great idea so why do they sometimes fail?   Ironically, 2 of the top 3 reasons why organizations and hospitals outsource, often contribute to their failure.  

  1. COST/ ROI:  Houses need to be built on solid foundations.  Any outsourcing built on the premise of cost savings will likely fail.   Think about it….how can a third party manage your SPD at a lesser cost than you do while achieving margin?  Additionally, executive and perioperative leadership positions experience frequent turnover.   Sterile Processing Outsource programs are “big ticket” items on the budget.    Your next CEO or Perioperative VP will likely be tasked with cutting costs and your outsourcing will be an easy target.  
  2. CULTURE:  Most successful and well-managed perioperative service departments also enjoy a healthy and collaborative culture between the OR and SPD.  Often, when Sterile Processing Departments are outsourced, collaboration suffers, and placing blame on a third party becomes increasingly convenient.  We have witnessed perioperative culture erosion as an end result.   
  3. QUALITY:  Many companies that offer SPD outsourcing claim they can do it better than you can.   Buyer beware!  This is not always the case.   Do your homework, check references, and do site visits.   We have witnessed several SPD Outsources terminated for cause related to quality deficits.  


SPD Outsourcing is a BIG decision with long-term implications.   There are certain situations in which Sterile Processing outsourcing is an effective strategy; however, it’s not ideal for everyone.   Our advice is to take some time and explore your unique “motivations” while weighing the potential pros and cons of your decision.   Our position is that SPD Outsourcing should be your last resort.  

We are here to help!   Please call if you want to discuss your situation and options.   Moab Healthcare provides “Traveler” Sterile Processing Technicians to support your production needs.   ALL our technicians have a CBSPD and/or HSPA (IAHCSMM) certification and have a minimum of 2 years of relevant Sterile Processing experience and can be deployed as rapidly as needed.