How Clinical Partnerships are Advancing in the Supply Chain


Tue Mar 29 13:00:00 CDT 2016
Kevin Freeman
Director of Provider Solutions, Medtronic

When it comes to supply chain in hospitals, there is a lot of talk about cost control and price negotiations. But as I wrote in an earlier post, the conversation is changing due to forward-thinking providers who are shifting the nature of their vendor relationships away from price negotiation and toward partnership models that produce mutually-beneficial outcomes.


For instance, supply chain vendors have long helped hospitals advance their clinical capabilities through customer support, but that support has typically started and ended with clinical education. More advanced partnerships, on the other hand, are bringing to the table human resources as part of an extended clinical team: project managers, nurses dedicated to clinical performance improvement and biostatisticians who help interpret data and incorporate it into the everyday workflow of clinical team members. Such resources are helping providers drastically expand their knowledge and capabilities without taking on additional full-time employees. 


Advanced partnerships are also helping providers focus, at a time when multiple priorities compete for attention. Instead of trying to improve all areas at once, vendors are helping providers be more deliberate by using data to improve on cost and quality variance in specific service lines. Our philosophy is to focus on the few trouble areas first, and apply those processes and learnings to other service lines.


As with any advanced partnership where both sides are engrained in each other's workflow, there is a level of trust and transparency that must exist. There also is commitment to adaptability, so both sides can learn from each other and work together to produce the best outcomes.


How are you advancing relationships with suppliers? What would an ideal advanced relationship look like, in your opinion? Tell us in the comments below.


As Director of Provider Solutions, Kevin Freeman is responsible for overseeing the implementation of value-added programs and services for health systems for Medtronic.