Data: Your Secret Competitive Advantage

Whether you work for a hospital, system or supplier, the importance of data can’t be emphasis enough in making superior supply chain decisions. The quality, depth and scope of your data can actually give you a secret competitive advantage over your competitors.   If you are a hospital or system that is data-centric, it could make the difference between being a low cost — high quality competitor in your city or region or just being one more rival healthcare organization.  If you are a supplier whose decisions are centered on your customers data it can be a door opener for new business and lifelong customer loyalty. In 

fact, it can be all of these things and much more if you are “doing it with data” that is multi-layered, nuanced and detail rich.

A good example of data-centric thinking is with value analysis. Most healthcare organizations don’t target their best value analysis savings opportunities by using data to drive their decisions.  Healthcare organizations instead prefer to either rely on their instincts or “gut feel” or they look at their highest volume products and service to investigate. This usually results in too many “dry holes” and missed opportunities. A much better and surer way to determine where your best value analysis savings opportunities reside is with data (i.e., tracking unfavorable trends, patterns and anomalies in your supply streams) that will point you in the right direction without your value analysis team expending enormous amount of time and energy to do so.

This same pattern is also followed with suppliers. Suppliers who search out new business with special deals and limited-time offers as opposed to deep diving into their customers’ data to determine where they can best assist them in standardizing, streamlining and eliminating waste in their product lines. In this way, suppliers will build a strong consulting relationship with their customers that will always lead to new business and lifelong customer loyalty because their competitors will never be willing and able to enter this rare and valued space.

What’s more…we have all heard a lot of talk about “doing it with data” for decades from all quarters, but too often the data that is being talked about is easy to retrieve, manipulate and analyze. It’s been our experience that this so-called data is too superficial and shallow to be meaningful, and actionable.

The secret to having a competitive advantage with your data is that it must tell a story (i.e., beginning, middle and end) that reveals who, what, when and how you are going off course with your products and services. If your data can’t give you these same indications or clues then you are at a competitive disadvantage and won’t be able to up your supply chain game now or in the future. Is this the position you want to be in or do you have higher aspirations for your hospital, system or business?

Robert T. Yokl

Chief Value Strategist

Strategic Value Analysis® in Healthcare

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