Hospital Supply Chain Management: What’s ahead in 2014


Tue Mar 29 13:00:30 CDT 2016

How has management of the healthcare supply chain evolved in 2013?


What’s in store for 2014?


As healthcare leaders look to their supply chains to reduce costs, improve quality and achieve positive outcomes for patients, they will need to become problem-solvers, engaging with integrated delivery systems in longer-term, more carefully selected relationships, according to Omnicell and C-Suite Resources’ report “Next-Decade Predictions for the U.S. Healthcare Market”. Risk-sharing, greater transparency and joint commitment to managing broader groups of activities and materials will characterize these relationships.


Over the past year, we’ve learned from supply chain best practices at top hospitals around the country. Based on our conversations with clinicians, supply chain leaders, educators and other experts, here are five key concepts that hospitals can employ in 2014.



1. Increase transparency by drawing upon clinical evidence and experience.


A recent study by The Advisory Board Company advises that to ensure data transparency, hospitals must “extract value through the post-contract period by leveraging physician supply utilization data with suppliers to demonstrate contract commitment.”

Pierre Theodore, M.D. UCSF Medical Center and Dr. John Gillean, Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, CHRISTUS Health, engage a wide range of clinicians who determine the attributes they prefer in devices and leverage their hospital systems’ purchasing power to obtain products that meet requirements that all stakeholders agree upon. How? They’re evaluating each product they use from both clinical and utilization perspectives. Based on this collaboration, they’re negotiating regional and system-wide agreements with suppliers whose products have been proven to deliver on the hospital’s quality, efficiency and outcome standards.



2. Invest in technology to standardize device identification and tracking.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a final rule requiring that most medical devices distributed in the United States carry a unique device identifier, or UDI. Standardizing how devices are labeled and tracked across health systems offers a huge opportunity to unlock supply chain efficiencies and improve patient safety.


Our UDI experts — Corwin Hee, Director, Information Systems Global Shared Services, and David Brooks, Senior Project Manager, Corporate Engineering, Technology Solutions — talk about how the pending UDI system will work, how it will benefit the supply chain, and what hospital management must know to help them implement UDI correctly.



3. Improve internal processes from the top down. And the bottom up.


The speed of innovation in a hospital’s supply chain depends on the involvement of clinical stakeholders, regular analysis and honest, timely communication with all employees. Based on their experiences at Tenet Healthcare, Fletcher Allen Health Care, and Lifespan Corporation, Erik Wexler, Charlie Miceli and Nicholas P. Dominick, Jr. provide tips for healthcare systems looking to improve in this area.



4. Learn from data to improve outcomes.


But first, determine what you want to measure, how, and why. Joe Walsh, AVP of Procurement at Intermountain Healthcare, works with his team to define his supply chain through 17 specific Key Performance Indicators under the categories of clinical excellence, service excellence, employee engagement, physician engagement, operational excellence and community stewardship.


As they adapt how they operate, it’s important that hospitals borrow from other industries’ best practices, says Lifespan SVP Nicholas Dominick and Tenet Healthcare Corporation Northeast Region CEO Erik Wexler, by measuring processes before and after changes have been made



5. Hire orchestrators and team-builders.


Supply chain blogger Andy Kaye recently discussed the top three barriers facing the next generation of supply chain professionals: The image gap, education and entry points, and the definition of job functions.


Arizona State University Professor Eugene Schneller, Ph.D., author of Strategic Management of the Health Care Supply Chain is doing something about the education gap through the school’s supply chain management program. He believes that the best thing that hospitals can do in recruiting supply chain talent is to understand the key characteristics and skills necessary to create a great supply chain team.


How will your hospital’s supply chain management strategy evolve in 2014? What are your biggest challenges and opportunities? Leave a comment below.