In healthcare, hospital and IDN procurement environments, the primary stakeholders are doctors. Given their historic role in owning the specification process for any material, service or supply that is involved in anyway in patient outcomes, it’s logical that they would be resistant to change. But it is possible to show physicians that it’s possible to improve patient outcomes by quantifying the overall quality and service levels different vendors provide — not to mentioning saving money in the process which can then go back into a pool of enhancing overall patient care. Still, just as procurement BPO firms rarely tackle the strategic aspects of direct materials procurement and supplier management, its essential for healthcare procurement teams to take back control over critical spend areas versus relying on their current GPO partners to manage these categories.
Above all, healthcare provider sourcing processes for physician preference items should highlight and quantify all of the options — and combination of options — available to the hospital or IDN. Ultimately, it is procurement’s job to show how patient outcomes are tied to a combination of healthcare quality and cost. This requires examining preference spend areas in a highly quantitative and collaborative way that brings together the hospital bean-counters (e.g., finance/accounting types, procurement leaders, etc.) with doctors to have a conversation based on the same fact sheet. These discussions must ultimately include patient-related issues.
As one example, take the case of examining comparative drug therapies and options and understanding their relative success and impact on a total cost basis. For example, in one case, the added costs of a particular type of therapy may be higher on a unit cost basis than a combined therapy of different drugs once administration and other costs are added in. These types of discussion rarely occur today with procurement in the middle, moderating the conversation and helping physicians to make better decisions with all of the facts in front of them. To get to this level of influence, procurement organizations must begin to view their role as one focused as much on information aggregator and analyst as one focused on supplier management and negotiations.
In addition, procurement groups should begin to take advantage of technology in the market that can help them analyze better quality and total cost decisions that optimize for a combination of patient outcomes, cost and risk…