The Healthcare Hub

Advice from Supply Chain Experts: Best Practices for Smooth Leadership Transitions

Monday, July 18, 2022

We’re currently living through the "Great Reshuffling," with unprecedented numbers of members of the workforce rethinking their careers. Hospital supply chain teams are no exception and managing through this change is top of mind for healthcare supply chain leaders.

During a recent Becker's Hospital Review webinar sponsored by GHX Lumere, I moderated a conversation with four supply chain experts who provided their recommendations for successful leadership transitions. Many thanks to the following individuals for their insights:

  • Amanda Chawla, Chief Supply Chain Officer, VP, Stanford Health Care, Stanford Children's Health, Stanford Valley Care
  • Jimmy Chung, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Advantus Health Partners
  • Frido Pagan, Vice President of Supply Chain, Eskenazi Health
  • Judy Webb-Hapgood, System VP, Supply Chain & Support Services, University of Wisconsin (UW)


Four key takeaways from the discussion particularly resonated with me:

  1. Effective supply chain leaders set a clear vision for organizations.
    Over the last 24 months, the supply chain function has evolved. At Stanford Medicine, the team's core mission is to serve the healing hands that support patients. "I'm focused on the next-generation, clinically integrated supply chain, where we elevate our operations, systems and processes to make it easy for staff to do the right thing," Ms. Chawla said.

    According to Dr. Chung, Advantus Health Partners believes that supply chain is about strategic utilization of health resources to optimize the patient experience. "We want to bring the supply chain and clinical perspectives together, so we are working toward the same goals, metrics and analytics," he said.

    Mr. Pagan from Eskenzi Health echoed the need for strategic alignment. "Supply chain isn't just transactional," he said. "We must understand the business from end to end, including how we support the physicians and clinicians taking care of patients."

  2. Networking is more important than ever.
    Historically, idea sharing and networking haven't been top priorities for supply chain leaders. This mindset is changing, however. "We have supply chain leaders and staff with brilliant ideas," Ms. Webb-Hapgood said. "We won't survive in this environment if we don't share that information across organizations and help each other. We must reach out to one another in healthcare and beyond."

  3. Relationship building is critical.
    One of Ms. Webb-Hapgood's top priorities has been learning the culture of different hospitals and clinics within the UW Health system. "You must be open-minded and take the time to soak up new information. Without that understanding, navigating change will be a hard journey," she said.

    During the first six months in a new role, Mr. Pagan focused on people. "I met one-on-one with executives, supply chain leaders and every team member," he said. "That built trust, identified improvement opportunities and clarified what resources are needed for success."

    That upfront understanding enabled him to create a compelling vision. The Eskenazi Health team knew that the plan was a collective effort based on input from team members across the organization. "When supply chain engages with clinicians and physicians, it builds trust," Mr. Pagan said.

  4. Trust is essential throughout the employee life cycle, including recruiting.
    The panelists underscored the importance of being honest and transparent with job applicants about the organizational culture. "If they ask hard questions, let's answer them," Ms. Webb-Hapgood said. "If we say everything is great and we know it's not, we run the risk of destroying trust."

When it comes to leadership transitions in supply chain, the importance of building trust and maintaining relationships with employees and stakeholders can't be underestimated. "Remember that you are improving and saving someone's life every day," Mr. Pagan said. "If you take care of your team members, they will ensure that the organization takes care of your patients." 

Find out how to leverage change management for healthcare in our expert guide.

Image Description

Bonnie Lai, PhD

General Manager, Lumere