"The indicator that scares me is food; it's always the first to go up, … then after that it's oil and then you start to see a plethora of commodities be affected," says Fleming.
To be sure, oil and energy prices are also on the rise, which will affect not only the cost of supplies transported to hospitals, but also the energy costs needed for the facilities. According to a release by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on the short-term energy outlook:
As prices of goods in the global economy increase, Fleming says even supply contracts with fixed pricing or GPO contracts can only weather these additional cost increases for so long without having to pass them along to their customers—if not in the current contract, then in the future ones.
"The impact it can have on hospital budgets is potentially devastating. They are already being asked to do more with less, and rapid changes in the global economy can mean increases in supply costs that weren't planned for in the budget. [These types of increases] can mean the difference between staff and stuff," he says.