If you need proof that increased partnerships and collaboration in the healthcare supply chain mean business, take a look at how many times these topics are showing up on the agendas of healthcare conferences these days. I just returned from the 2012 AHRMM Annual Conference and Exhibition, where the topic of collaboration was featured in no less than four learning labs and discussed by physicians, supply chain executives and academic experts alike in the general sessions. I had the pleasure of moderating a session on "Driving Out Costs through Collaboration," where both providers and suppliers engaged in a provocative but constructive discussion on how to reinvent relationships between providers, suppliers, physicians, payers, and patients to take cost and risk out of the healthcare system. A key point raised in this discussion, as well as in a general session on healthcare reform and the supply chain earlier in the day, was that suppliers generally don’t have a good understanding of how their customers’ worlds are changing. Executives do, for the most part, but not those on the front lines, and those are the individuals who have the most interaction with their customers.
I am hoping things begin to change with the advent of conferences like the inaugural MedTech Supplier Partnerships Conference being held in Boston later this month. There, I will have the opportunity to speak with those responsible for procurement, sourcing, outsourcing, quality assurance, compliance and supply chain within the medical device industry. Granted, the majority of the conference will be focused on upstream relationships, but the session I will lead will focus on how suppliers can build partnerships internally within their organizations, say between sales, supply chain and R&D, and with their customers to best prepare for the dramatic changes in store with healthcare reform.
I had the chance to discuss the topic in depth with Brian Bentz, editor-at-large with UBM Canon’s Medical Group and chair of the conference. One point worth considering is that the amount manufacturers could save by reducing SG&A costs, improving visibility to demand signals and increasing inventory turns could rival the costs associated with the medical device tax. Who knows what could happen if manufacturers put as much energy toward these initiatives as they currently are trying to overturn the tax.
You can read more about my conversation with Brian at: How the Supply Chain Can Help the Medtech Industry Prepare for Healthcare Reform