The 2011 Healthcare Supply Chain Summit kicked off today, highlighted by an executive roundtable discussion featuring suppliers and providers from North America and Europe. The discussion began with a focus on the challenges faced by hospital and health system supply chain leaders in the US, after which Chris Slater, head of supplies for Leeds Teaching Hospital in the UK, commented, “It’s amazing how the issues we face are really the same,” noting that providers in Europe and North America all need to cope with rising supply chain costs in an environment of little or no growth in revenue. There was also general agreement among the providers that their response to the economic challenges has to change. As Slater put it, we need to find ways to lower our internal costs and to use technology to help providers and suppliers alike. Another provider – from the US – put it a bit more bluntly: “We’ve got to control costs, but the days of beating up the suppler for lower pricing are gone.”
The focus on similarities vs. differences continued when the discussion turned to the lack of IT resources – whether funding, systems or skills – for the supply chain. Again, Slater noted the dearth of tools to help supply chain leaders develop the business case for more IT investment in supply chain, to which one of the suppliers noted, “We’ve got the same issue when we try to make the business case for focusing on reducing the cost to serve customers, as opposed to just focusing on the price paid for products.
While the topics discussed during the afternoon were not necessarily new, like the issue around price – some of the perspectives and recommended approaches were.
For example, all generally agreed that physicians and other clinicians will and should play an important role in determining the products used in patient care. But as one participant noted, suppliers and providers have each been competing over who has the most influence over physician choice, which has put the two groups at odds. Natalia Wilson, MD, added, it can also end up alienating physicians, which is the exact opposite of what the groups are trying to accomplish. The suggestion was made to look at changing the focus to building a three-way partnership between providers, physicians and suppliers, all toward the goal of finding the most clinically and cost effective way to deliver patient care.
Here’s a sampling of some of the other topics discussed
Following the Summit, GHX will prepare a report on the discussion, outlining the topics discussed in more detail, in hopes of creating a roadmap for creation of new models for healthcare.