One of the conversations I’m having more frequently with healthcare leaders is around how business partners can help each other during these tremendous times of change. Provider organizations are expressing a sense of frustration that their suppliers don’t fully understand the impacts of healthcare reform on their operational and financial performance. And it’s a two way street. Supplier organizations too are feeling the pressure and voice the challenges they face from the expectations that they come down on price or make other accommodations but still deliver the same level of product quality and customer service. No matter what group I am speaking with, whether it is hospitals, manufacturers, distributors or GPOs, there is this feeling that the constituents on the other side of the table don’t understand their current challenges and organizational impacts.
The resolution to these issues requires more than what can be gained through day-to-day transactional and sourcing relationships. Most importantly, bridging these gaps requires trust and willingness to engage in open dialogue – both of which can be difficult and scary. Leaders need to prioritize sitting down with their peers and having strategic conversations about where the industry is headed and how it’s impacting them. Leaders then need to share the findings and ideas discussed with their organizations. Only then can we understand each other’s pain points, walk in each other’s shoes and come up with mutually beneficial solutions to the problems facing the healthcare supply chain. Product, pricing, packaging and other elements of traditional sourcing are better addressed when suppliers and providers are on a level field of understanding and can make collaborative decisions versus stumbling through many of the same old adversarial discussions where limited understanding drives inefficient and ineffective relationships.
As an industry, we need to do a better job of creating an environment where constituents can come together and have these conversations at both a high level of trust and disclosure. And individual organizations must take it upon themselves to identify opportunities to elevate everyday conversations with their business partners to help navigate the challenges of today’s business environment and the changes that lie ahead.