Part 3: Inspiring Today's Nurse Leaders: A Conversation with Pamela Hunt, BSN, MSN, RN


Tue Mar 29 13:00:24 CDT 2016

Beyond clinical support, what other partnership areas would you like to see from suppliers?


Our suppliers understand the financially challenging environment we’re working in and have been wonderful in coming to the table with ideas. For example, I have worked with orthopedic suppliers who have helped us match the patient’s condition with the joint best suited for their movement needs. They’ve helped us with product standardization, which not only gets us better pricing from higher quantities, but also efficiencies in the OR. They’ve helped us decrease the number of supplies we carry. For example, they expedite delivery of rarely used items that help us reduce inventory without interfering with patient care.


Suppliers are coming to the table and being innovative with their suggestions. They don’t bring us donuts anymore. Instead, they bring us value in our business and value through our partnership with them.


In past negotiations, our orthopedic surgeons sided with vendors, arguing that under capitated pricing, they would not make money from the sale. We were able to get data that showed at the time, the vendor was actually making more off the hip implant than the surgeon was making for Medicare patients requiring the procedure. That helped the physician understand that there was room for improvement in the negotiation.


That being said, I believe that vendors are our partners and that we need to come together to find solutions. Of course, we expect them to follow our rules and procedures. But I also understand that our vendors need to make a living so that their company will be there to continue to supply that product.


Describe the influence nurse leaders have on the product evaluation and purchasing processes.


In my role as a regional executive, I make sure that new products under consideration go to materials management and our buyer first. We determine if there’s a conflict of interest, if we have competing products in the house, or if bringing in the new product would mean doing away with another product. The buyer does all that analysis before the product comes to the clinical side for evaluation. If the product meets our criteria at all levels, the buyer then gives us information to determine if the product is worth bringing in or not. If it’s a good fit, we bring in the buyer, the vendor, the nursing leader and possibly the physician to negotiate the best price.


What trends are you seeing at your hospital network that may not be widely apparent yet?


It’s interesting to gain the perspectives of the nurse leaders all over the country who attend my seminars. I’m surprised to learn that there are still pockets of hospitals across the country that are not asking for discounts, hospitals that aren’t pushing that envelope and asking if there’s anything else vendors can do for them. We continue to use our group purchasing organizations to help us with contract negotiations. Standardization is coming in vogue as physicians become more aligned with their organizations’ goals. Some hospitals incentivize physicians to support a higher level of product standardization.


How do you see the role of nurse leaders changing in the next five years?


I think this work [as financial and operational managers] will become more second-hand to us. The biggest change in the last 5-7 years is that we’ve become very driven by measureable outcomes, and this will continue. In the future we’ll be even more driven by our organization’s financial performance. As nurses, we’re used to looking at HCAHP scores and CMS Core measures and now we’re going to be held responsible for our financial outcomes as well.


Nurse leaders who understand the work to be done and measured, who partner with physicians and finance, and who get their team involved by communicating needs and goals will help drive their hospitals’ success over the next five years and many years to come.

How do you see the role of nurse leaders changing?  Tell us in the comment field! 


Don't miss part one and part two of this interview series!