Industry Voices—Hospitals should use clinician-driven sourcing strategy for supply chain

A clinician-driven sourcing strategy can help reduce variation among clinically equivalent medical supplies. (Getty/jacoblund)

Federal medical centers, hospitals, and clinics have a growing array of suppliers entering the healthcare marketplace. One approach for organizations to reap the benefits of these new—as well as current—suppliers is to establish a clinician-driven sourcing strategy.

A clinician-driven sourcing strategy provides a formal and informal mechanism for physicians, clinicians, and supply chain leaders to collaborate on sourcing and product/technology decisions. It helps reduce variation among clinically equivalent medical supplies that are used, thus reducing the amount of training time needed. When physicians and clinicians spend less time in training, they can spend more time taking care of their patients.

And that’s a good thing.

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This three-phase process for clinician-driven sourcing is one that federal healthcare organizations can institute and infuse into medical supply chain decision making and operations:

  1. Plan—The first phase can be broken into three steps: 1) Establish clinical value analysis teams and governance; 2) Obtain spend and usage data for benchmarking and identify products for review; and 3) Conduct market assessments for vendors that were identified.
    This planning phase is focused on ensuring that the appropriate structure is in place for clinician involvement by preparing sourcing activities and getting value analysis teams involved. Upfront planning by reviewing spend and usage data and engaging in market assessments is essential to ensure that  each value analysis team is adequately prepared to review products to yield the best outcomes and value. Therefore, this first phase helps ensure that all subsequent collaboration points are productive and focused on the task at hand.
  2. Develop—There are three steps here as well: 1) Determine and refine product requirements and needs; 2) Conduct clinical review of requirements; and 3) Provide input on acquisition strategies for requirements and needs.
    This phase helps ensure that the development of healthcare facility supply and equipment needs includes the voice of the clinician from initial requirements development through acquisition strategy formulation.
  3. Execute—In the execution phase, there are four steps: 1) Develop acquisition packages; 2) Review vendor bids; 3) Conduct awards; and 4) Provide input into implementation planning.
    This phase involves executing contracting and procurement actions to acquire the medical supplies, equipment, and services based on the collaborative efforts between clinicians and supply chain staff.

Establishment of a viable clinician-driven sourcing strategy must be supported from the highest levels of leadership within the organization. By promoting an environment that legitimizes the support needed to effectively build solid and sustainable partnerships, federal healthcare organizations can function efficiently and at the highest levels of productivity and mission support.

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In order for a transformation to be effective, leadership should enforce a change management strategy to communicate timely updates to the broader organization and train employees to use the new system and/or processes. Additionally, empowering clinicians to serve as advocates, or “Change Champions,” for the new process will help all clinicians get on board with the standardized products.

Several considerations are important for an effective clinician-driven sourcing strategy:

  • Commitment to change should be driven by leadership and endorsed by clinician and procurement staff as well as end users.
  • Product and service decisions should be determined through a logical and objective process driven by clinicians and clinical research.
  • Spend, utilization and any other market data used to make sourcing and procurement decisions should be based on accurate and verifiable sources.
  • Measurement and tracking of performance should be monitored to ensure that any specified business goals and objectives are achieved.
  • Organizational leadership should assemble a change champion network of clinicians who are responsible for supporting the supply chain transformation within their hospitals.
  • Providing the best care to patients should be the primary driver of this standardization strategy rather than focusing on cost optimization.

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Physicians, clinicians, and supply chain professionals, who are all committed to the well-being of patients and to procuring the right items at the best price, must work together to ensure that sound sourcing decisions are based on patient safety and quality of patient care. With ever-growing choices for products, getting a plan in place now can minimize variation in medical practice and reduce the amount of time that clinicians must spend learning how to use functionally equivalent products.

Crystal Williams is a manager with Deloitte Consulting LLP in the Supply Chain & Network Operations practice. Kelly Marchese is the supply chain & network operations leader for Deloitte’s Government & Public Services practice.