Changing of the Guard for HealthTrust

Founder Jim Fitzgerald honored; successor Ed Jones welcomed.

Networking, collaboration and education attracted more than 3,500 HealthTrust members, leaders and supplier partners to the GPO’s annual conference this summer, in Las Vegas.

The event, whose theme was “Positioned to Win,” featured 65 education and information sessions with programming targeted to supply chain leadership, healthcare executives, pharmacists and a variety of clinicians.

Two hundred and twenty HealthTrust member facilities and/or IDNs hosted meetings before or after the conference. Many of HealthTrust advisory boards met as well, including two new boards: the Facilities & Infrastructure Advisory Board, which provides member feedback on contracts dealing with facility infrastructure, design, construction and energy management; and the Physician Advisory Committee, with representatives in cardiovascular, orthopedics, spine/neurosurgery, general surgery, internal medicine/hospitalist and infectious disease.

Changing of the guard
Jim Fitzgerald was honored for his leadership as the retiring founder and president/CEO of HealthTrust. Fitzgerald officially stepped down as the organization’s first and only CEO on May 31. “I’m most proud of the fact that HealthTrust established the right culture, where its members and partners know we are going to make decisions in the best interest of healthcare providers,” he said. “We have a strong program of ethics and compliance that is based on integrity and the absence of conflicts of interest. And, internally, we’ve created a culture where colleagues feel they have an environment to grow and accomplish their goals with a team passionate about what we do.”

Fitzgerald oversaw the formation of HealthTrust in 1999, and its financial and operational functions, and he managed the contracting for clinical supplies, pharmaceuticals and capital equipment, totaling approximately $20 billion annually. He is a member of the Federation of American Hospitals and serves as a board member of the Tennessee Minority Supplier Development Council.

Fitzgerald’s successor as president and CEO, Ed Jones, presented his vision for the organization at a general session during the conference. Jones previously held the position of chief operating officer, with responsibility for strategic sourcing, clinical operations, custom contracting, supplier diversity, global sourcing and regional operations. In addition to his new position as president and CEO of HealthTrust, Jones will also serve as president of Parallon Supply Chain Solutions. Founded in May 2011, Parallon offers outsourced revenue-cycle and other business processes, workforce management, supply chain services and group purchasing.

“Supply chain is more important than ever in this environment, where providers will continue to be paid less,” said Jones, in response to questions from the Journal of Healthcare Contracting. “Increasingly, they will need our help on much more than supply expenses. HealthTrust is uniquely positioned to help with total cost solutions that make us more than a traditional GPO.” Jones pointed to HealthTrust’s and Parallon’s service offerings in the following areas as examples:

  • SourceTrust, a custom contracting program for medical devices. HealthTrust aids members with clinical support and a review of new technology.
  • SpendTrust, which provides pharmacy and purchasing analytics with cross-reference databases, price auditing and benchmarking. It is designed to offer hospitals a view of their spending across facilities and multiple IT systems.
  • EnergyTrust, which provides utility bill pay services as well as discounted utility costs in states with deregulated energy markets.
  • AdvantageTrust, designed to offer physician offices and clinics, long-term-care and home-health facilities the same pricing and contracts as large member hospitals.
  • Business Performance Group, designed to provide revenue cycle services, from patient registration to billing, collections, denial management, etc.
  • Supply Chain Solutions, which provides consulting and outsourced supply chain services, including clinical resource management, value analysis, inventory utilization and product standardization, pharmacy order entry, operating room optimization, purchasing, accounts payable and distribution.
  • Workforce Management Solutions, designed to offer assistance with healthcare staffing management, including contingent staffing, recruiting and enhanced productivity and scheduling technology.
  • Technology Solutions, extending a proven healthcare technology platform focused on increasing top line revenue.

Continuing education
The HealthTrust conference featured continuing education in a variety of disciplines, including:

  • “Clinical integration and the evolution of accountable care organizations,” with Albert Tomchaney; Gunter Wessels, Ph.D.; and Bill Woodson.
  • “Medication safety issues,” featuring Michael R. Cohen, president of The Institute for Safe Medication Practices; Michelle Mandrack; and Allen Vaida, PharmD.

General session keynotes addressed the economy, healthcare reform and the impact of the 2012 elections. Speakers were:

  • Stephen Moore, chief economist, The Wall Street Journal.
  • Michael Leavitt, former governor of Utah and chairman of Leavitt Partners, who addressed the implications of healthcare reform.

Other speakers included:

  • Jay Arthur, author of books and articles about Lean Six Sigma.
  • Robert Burns, Ph.D., Wharton Center for Health Management and Economics, on supply chain management and its relationship with the C-suite.
  • Leadership and professional development experts Dale Smith Thomas; Tina Thomas, Ph.D.; and Susan Williams, Ph.D.

HealthTrust members and the GPO’s subject matter experts shared best practices and lessons learned in implementing HealthTrust offerings in the areas of purchased services, medical devices, capital equipment, value analysis, pharmacy analytics and effective workforce management through productivity and benchmarking. SourceTrust medical device subject matter experts offered insights on technology and innovations in the areas of osteobiologics, orthopedics and interventional cardiology, as well as strategies for effectively engaging and collaborating with physicians in hospital medical device initiatives.

Vendors on display
The Exhibit Hall was open several times throughout the Conference for members to meet one-on-one with almost 300 vendors. Included among vendor attendees were those representing minority, women and/or veteran owned businesses as well as those offering members sustainably solutions through Environmentally Preferred Purchasing.

HealthTrust honored its Top 10 Vendors as chosen by the membership. Members vote and select the “best in class” based on key criteria, which include product and service quality, on-time delivery, billing accuracy and customer service. Input is also collected from the GPO’s contracting teams and management. This year’s Top Ten Vendors are:

  • Alcon Laboratories, Inc.
  • Boston Scientific.
  • CDW Healthcare.
  • CR Bard.
  • Johnson & Johnson.
  • Kerma.
  • Medline.
  • Owens & Minor.
  • Stryker.
  • Trinity Sterile.

Member awards
Outstanding Member Awards went to Mark Weaver, director of contracting and procurement in supply chain services, Hospital Sisters Health System, Springfield, Ill; and Karl Blomback, vice president of materials management and budget, Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center.

Other award-winners were:

  • Operational Excellence Award: Matt Mayer, corporate vice president for material resources, Franciscan Alliance, Mishawaka, Ind.
  • Clinical Excellence Award: Lynne Farkas, RN, clinical manager of value analysis, Trinity Health, Novi, Mich.
  • Social Stewardship Team Award: Working Green/Living Green Team, KentuckyOne Health, representing facilities in Berea, London and Lexington, Ky. Team members are Greg Gerard, president, Saint Joseph Berea (chairman of the initiative); Terry Crist, executive chef, Saint Joseph London; Amanda Goldman, director nutritional services at two of the facilities; and Pedro Green, chef at Saint Joseph Hospital.

Looking ahead
Jones sees challenges and opportunities for HealthTrust and its members in the future.
“As an industry, health care does not have a uniform numbering system to allow providers better access to data,” he said. “So, in the area of spend analytics, the biggest challenge for supply chain leaders is a lack of good data and information to base decisions on.

“HealthTrust has now built that capability with a platform that will dramatically improve information and reporting as well as offer great insights as to how providers can take costs out of their systems beyond the contract pricing HealthTrust provides. This platform will offer a tremendous benefit to HealthTrust members going forward.”