Observation Deck / Binding View Winter 2004

Talk About Your Culture Clash

If there’s a monumental culture clash in this business, it’s between materials managers and surgeons. Materials managers view surgeons as being oblivious to the economic realities facing hospitals, while surgeons view materials managers as being oblivious to patient care. Throw in a GPO contract and an anxious vendor, and the dynamics get really interesting.

At bottom, of course, both the materials manager and the surgeon have the patient’s best interest at heart. They just approach it in their own way. The materials manager thinks that if he or she can help clinicians deliver care cost-effectively, the hospital or IDN will live to see another day – and take care of a lot more sick people. The surgeon believes that patient care must come first and that economic realities must fall into line behind that.

Somewhere in between the two – although usually closer to the physician than the materials manager – sits the vendor. And then there’s the GPO, wrestling with the decision, “Do we push for a national contract for physician-preference products?”

What’s to be done? What else is there, except to talk it out, try to bridge the gap – as Bill McIlhargey points out in his article on page 14. We can do this.

As John Pritchard notes in his Publisher’s Letter, we are dedicated to helping provide insight, understanding and a sense of community to everyone in the contracting arena. Doing so won’t be easy all the time. There are so many different interests and perspectives in this business, as the cartoon below demonstrates. And we all know that. But we owe it to each other and to all of this country’s patients to try.