What Is Procurement for Dental Practices?

January 6, 2020

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Procurement is an overarching term for the entire process of procuring (buying) the services, equipment, materials, and supplies a business needs in order to run. When addressing this concept in the dental supply chain, there are many factors to consider.

Why Does Your Procurement Process Matter?

Purchasing vital supplies for a dental practice isn’t quite as simple as going to the store and filling up a shopping cart. Practices need a variety of supplies, some widely available and others more limited. Keeping all the products and suppliers straight is a unique challenge without a process that ties everything together.A defined procurement process helps your dental practice stay on top of inventory needs, so you can serve your patients. The procurement process includes factors like supplier relationship management, inventory control (supply monitoring), and cost management. By optimizing your procurement process and leveraging your purchasing power you can save on the costs of dental supplies and improve your cash flow while maintaining your practice's reputation and service levels through consistent inventory management.

Dental Procurement: Step-by-Step

Whether you run a solo practice or a large DSO, you need an organized approach. Let’s take a bird’s eye look at each step in the process to provide your dental practice with a blueprint for efficient dental procurement.

Step 1: Inventory

A strong procurement process starts with a good grasp of your current inventory. Digital inventory systems make it easy to keep tabs on which products are in good supply, how quickly certain supplies are used up, and when it's time to order more. Using modern technologies like barcoding and RFID tagging, your office staff can save time counting items in storage, confident that your digital stock accurately reflects what's on the shelves.

Step 2: Quote

Before ordering new supplies, you must identify and qualify appropriate suppliers.  Does your practice have long-standing, trusted supplier relationships?  Or, are you always searching for the best price you can find? In either case, it’s a good practice to periodically ask for quotes from current and new suppliers to ensure you’re getting both the service and the price you need. Compare the quotes you receive and identify suppliers your staff will use to purchase different types of supplies.

Step 3: Request

The third step in a good dental procurement process is to plan and organize the purchases themselves. In smaller practices, it's tempting to choose a supplier and then skip right ahead to ordering from them. However, creating a repeatable and consistent ordering process is vital to your team running smoothly. Leaders can provide financial oversight by requiring office staff to place a formal request. They avoid issues with improper supplies orders as a result.

Step 4:  Order

Upon approving a request, create and submit a purchase order to the supplier. The purchase order serves as a legal request of the supplier to provide goods and services at a specific price, quality, delivery date, and other requirements. Remember to keep a clear record of each purchase order, with a digital file containing the order details as well as related information such as the supplier's confirmation and shipment information.

Step 5:  Receive

When an order finally arrives, inspect and record the received shipment. All shipments should be reviewed for accuracy: Did you receive the correct supplies as ordered, and in the correct quantities? Was there any damage noted? If issues are found, it’s important to communicate with the supplier as soon as possible to avoid invoicing issues and to coordinate any corrective actions. If the receipt is correct, scan supplies into the inventory management system and place them into storage.

Step 6:  Pay

Only at the very end of this process should payment occur. First, compare details from the invoice to its corresponding purchase order and the supplies you received. This disciplined invoice matching process holds suppliers accountable and prevents time-consuming mistakes such as duplicate payments, incorrect charges, and contract errors. Keep clear records throughout to avoid confusion or costly delays later. Modern financial systems support electronic invoicing, scanning, and various payment types to streamline this process further.

The Challenges of Dental Procurement

Dental procurement comes with a range of challenges. When creating a procurement plan, it's essential to consider how your methods address these pain points.

Supply Chain Disruptions

Sometimes, vendors can't uphold their end of the bargain due to material shortages, production delays, shipping concerns, and more. While you may be able to maintain a relationship with them despite these supply chain disruptions, you may still need to find a temporary vendor to meet inventory requirements.Dental practices need the agility to adjust their procurement process as needed to meet demands during uncertainty. Handling the process manually may not lend itself to much flexibility and ordering from unvetted suppliers opens you up to quality and regulatory compliance risks.

Price Increases

You may have a few suppliers you count on for the same products repeatedly, but these vendors are still subject to price increases. When a price increase strikes, you may want to find a lower price at the same time you need to refill a product in your inventory. It can be a challenge to search for those competitive prices while meeting inventory demands.

Lack of Transparency

To maintain a reliable procurement process, you need your dental supply chain to be transparent. It's important to understand which suppliers provide what products, how much you have of each item, and when it's time to order more of a product.Many practices turn to spreadsheets to manage inventory information, but that method can only go so far. If your manual data management slips up at any time, you may miss critical information about inventory levels or product availability. You need a solution that tracks data effectively and makes all inventory information readily available to your team.

Complex Inventory Requirements

Dental practices have to consider a wide range of inventory needs. While care providers need personal protective equipment (PPE) like disposable gloves and face masks, they also need more unique items like implants, composites, and brackets. PPE may be easy to obtain from multiple suppliers, but products specific to dentistry can be much harder to obtain.When dental products like implants or private label products are harder to find, pricing becomes a significant challenge. If there are only a few select suppliers you can turn to for these specialty items, you may end up paying a lot more for them. Taking time to identify competitive pricing can be time-consuming, and you may end up spending more on the manual procurement process in an attempt to save.

Integrate Your Entire Dental Procurement Process

We developed the Method platform as a one-stop procurement system for dental practices. At each of these critical steps, Method makes it easy to control your spend and drive results to your bottom line.. From digital inventory management to easy price comparison and streamlined ordering, Method takes the guesswork out of procurement. Learn how we can improve your practice with our proven procurement process today.

The Method Procurement Platform Story

Method Procurement was founded by a group of tech and dental employees who wanted to combine our passions for dentistry and software to build a platform that solved the procurement issues of the dental field. We have an expert understanding of how dental procurement works, and we are committed to delivering you cost-effective options for your practice and expertise you can trust at every step.We're dedicated to revolutionizing how your dental practice operates and increasing your return on investment. We recognize that small and medium dental organizations may rely on old, inefficient technology such as excel spreadsheets and even fax. Method will transform your procurement process and give you back your time. You can efficiently order dental practice supplies straight from suppliers through our online platform. With Method, you can easily access more than 2,000 suppliers and manufacturers and more than 600,000 unique dental and medical products with fully accurate, up-to-date information.Method purchasing software allows you to create rapid orders, automate your orders, and electronically deliver them to suppliers to reduce the chance of error or delay. You'll have complete visibility on all your order confirmations and shipment statuses in one place with an easy-to-navigate user interface. After your orders are complete, Method lets you keep track of them in a history log with up-to-date receipts and invoices that are great for creating expense reports.

Why Choose Method Purchasing Software?

In today's dental marketplace, dentists can no longer depend on automatic growth to increase their return on investment. Thankfully, transforming your procurement process and dental office inventory management can give you the financial returns you need to grow your business. At Method, we know that dental practices can conservatively save from 6-12% on every dollar spent using procurement control.According to dental economics expert Dr. Roger Levin, the average dental practice spends 66% of its money on overhead expenses. The Method procurement platform helps you increase your practice's profit by cutting costs. By reducing your practice's overhead costs by just $100, you can yield as much profit as if you were increasing production by an entire $290.Working with Method's dental procurement platform comes with several benefits. Our system:

  • Improves your inventory by eliminating expired, obsolete, and lost inventory.
  • Prevents cash bleed by managing the back end of your dental practice.
  • Saves you money by finding competitively priced supplies.
  • Eliminates costs associated with the manual procurement process by anywhere from 25-50%.
  • Provides an easy-to-use system that's intuitive and enjoyable and requires little training.
  • Gives you the freedom to choose from any supplier you like on a single platform.
  • Is available as an affordable annual contract with access to training, monitoring, and customer support.

When you're ready to switch to Method's procurement platform, our onboarding team will help you learn to use our inventory management and purchasing software. In no time, your organization will be negotiating and purchasing the best dental supplies in the industry at a lower price point. To see the difference we can make for your dental practice or DSOs, request a demo from us today.

Markets We Serve

As a dental procurement solution provider, we serve small and large dental practices alike. From dentist-owned private practices to large dental service organizations, our purchasing software can give you more than half a million inventory options at a cost-effective price. We offer our dental procurement platform to institutions like:

  • Dentist-owned private practices: Your small, tight-knit team of professionals can do it all. Method will help your team members set their eyes on bigger goals by minimizing the time you need to spend on the procurement process. We help even small dentist-owned private practices take advantage of large corporate dental procurement services so you can get access to the best deals for your dollar.
  • Midsized dental service organizations (DSOs): Method understands that midsized dental service organizations (DSOs) require a scalable procurement process. If your organization is still relying on small business procurement systems, it's time to update your services to Method. We'll help you streamline procurement with consistent purchasing and approval processes. We'll also verify product receipts and invoices with our three-way matching system.
  • Large dental service organizations (DSOs): Simplify your procurement process with Method's strategic approach to procurement and spending management. Our platform offers the tools you need to identify and implement formularies so you can accurately and confidently anticipate your spending needs. We'll help you keep your suppliers accountable and negotiate bulk savings to prevent you from overpaying on your supplies. Minimize your time spent ordering and maximize your savings with Method's procurement platform.

Choose Method Procurement to Manage Your Dental Supply Chain

Method Procurement's solution for dental practices and organizations gives care providers the agility they need to manage their supply chains. Our team is dedicated to understanding your organization's needs to deliver ongoing support alongside our platform. Get in touch with us at 1-800-742-2100 or request a demo today.

Learn More About Dental Procurement

Ready to build a better dental practice?

Method Procurement Technologies gives independent dental practices and DSOs the inventory management and procurement capabilities they need to succeed. With our full, end-to-end solution, ordering dental supplies is straightforward and hassle-free.

Learn how Method Procurement's spend management solutions can improve your bottom line. Get in touch with our team today or request a demo to see it for yourself.