The Healthcare Hub

Supply Chain Transformation at the Medical University of South Carolina - Uniting Supply Chain & C-Level Executives for Continued Success

posted by: Régine Honoré Villain
Thursday, July 25, 2013

When I joined the Medical University of South Carolina, we faced a serious reality – combining Medicaid and Medicare cuts, the organization would have to remove $64.4 million from the budget to stay afloat. As the director of supply chain management, I realized that the supply chain function of the organization had become comfortable with just being “OK,” and being just OK is not OK with me. I took it upon myself to change our supply chain culture, from the C-level down.

To start, I realized that we had to break down the silos that had formed in the organization. I told my team that we would accomplish this together – that I would be just as invested and work as hard as they did. I would love them hard and work them hard to fix our supply chain culture. For me, it was about elevating the stock of the supply chain and not being the butt of jokes. We knew what we were talking about, and it was time to show it by achieving cost savings, streamlining our processes, and being accountable to providing better patient care.
While my team was united, I knew we could not accomplish our goals by ourselves. We needed to have C-level Executives at the table. To ensure participation, I created a strong core team to attend all transformation initiatives meetings and built in quarterly reviews with the C-suite where we tracked key metrics. We all know that it’s difficult to get anyone to attend meetings, especially C-level executives. But, my executives quickly realized that I would do anything I could to get them to attend. The planned time doesn’t work for you? That’s OK, we can move the meeting. You said you’re too busy to discuss today? I'm happy to call you tomorrow. I don’t easily take no for an answer, because if I accept non-participation from executives then I know my goals will not be accomplished and my team cannot succeed.
Of course, explaining our entire supply chain transformation cannot be done in a single post, but in short, between creating key metrics to measure against, breaking down silos and ensuring C-level participation and buy-in, we have accomplished some great changes:

  • Non-catalog procurement has decreased by 42 percent
  • Invoice automation is now at 94 percent (up from automation with only one vendor in 2011)
  • Price exceptions are only 1.2 percent

Our transformation isn’t over. We still have more goals and benchmarks to achieve, but we are well on our way. I hope that other supply chain departments can learn from our journey to achieve the savings that all hospitals desperately need today.