Innovative Procurement Masterclass

Gary Ryan explains how innovative procurement can help improve patient outcomes.


Masterclass on Innovative Procurement

Gary Ryan: As chief innovation officer at Southlake Regional Health Center, my main role is to bring technologies to Southlake that are being commercialized and tested in a real-life hospital setting. 

What does this mean?

G.R.: That means that we get kind of first crack at trying some new and exciting innovations that we otherwise wouldn't get exposed to if we weren't trying them right from the get go.

What is innovative procurement?

G.R.:  Innovative procurement is a method by which we try to be a little more open to innovation in the marketplace. Lowest price is not the only determinant of value. And so innovative procurement tries to bring in other factors than just price to the table.

How does this differ from the traditional procurement method?

G.R.:  The difference between traditional and innovative procurement very often is that in traditional you'd precisely say I need a pencil three inches long and yellow. The only solutions you'll get are pencils three inches long and yellow and price would be the main determinant to decide which one to buy. In innovative procurement, because you'd say I need something to help me document information, you might get a pencil, you might get a computer, you might get something else as a solution which would be far more beneficial than having to find a pencil in the first place.

Does price factor in?

G.R.: ] In innovative procurement, very often people think that price doesn't determine the outcome, but price is one of the factors that is also considered. So it's taking into account price, plus innovative potential. Value is the key differentiator there.

What does value mean in this context?

G.R.: Value is a range of different objectives that you're looking for. It could be patient satisfaction, it could be patient outcome. Price is obviously part of value as well. Also could workflow be part of value. It all depends on the outcomes that you're looking for.

What is an example of the outcomes addressed by innovative procurement?

G.R.: An example of a patient outcome would be readmission rate: patients, the hospital, the vendor community all want products that reduce readmission rates. So in this case instead of just warrantying the product, say the pacemaker from not failing, a vendor could say we will guarantee you that we would have a less than 5 percent readmission rate and we would all be focused on obtaining that objective.

What role does a clinician play?

G.R.:  The role of the clinician in innovative procurement is to participate right from the beginning so that they can have an influence in the types of choices they can make for their very own patients.

Are there Government guidelines around innovative procurement?

G.R.:  Many hospitals in Ontario have the belief that the broader public sector guidelines which oversee all the types of procurements we do are fairly restrictive in how they are written. In reality the guidelines are fairly broad in their ability to enable you to do different methods of procurement. Hospitals just have not yet been able to try the different methods and realize that indeed the guidelines can be far more beneficial than they're giving them credit for. )

How does Innovative procurement get addressed in an RFP?

G.R.: Under the broader public sector guidelines once you set the RFP out, you have to follow those rules through the whole process. So if you don't include a dialogue process in your engagement process then, under that RFP you would not do that activity.

What does the competitive dialogue process look like?

G.R.: In competitive dialogue, the key is you’re reengaging back with the vendor community, and actually getting the clinicians and the users right face to face with the vendor so that you can talk creatively around what possible solutions might exist as opposed to locking yourself into one solution in a written format in a traditional request for proposal process.

What are the risks of not implementing innovative procurement?

G.R.: The challenges in health care are immense. And to me the biggest challenge in not doing innovative procurement is that we won't be as open to innovation as we need. And innovation is the only way we're going to meet the huge demands of health care with constrained budgets.

What advice would you have for other healthcare systems?

G.R.:  If other hospitals are looking to start different projects, I would advise them to read all the material the ministry has put out, but also to seek mentors who have been down the road already, and we're more than willing to help mentor other hospitals on how to do this.

What does the future look like with innovative procurement?

G.R.: Our hope is that other hospitals will see that these kinds of projects can be done by hospitals in Ontario, and around North America, and the world, and that they can benefit from them, not just for themselves but also for the patients they serve.