Publisher’s Letter January/February 2007

The pressure is on…
We’re already well into the new year, with its new objectives and, of course, added pressure to produce favorable results.

This year (and, so it seems, every year) we have better tools to quantify and measure things than ever before. It seems that most organizations – non-profits, for-profits, privately held organizations — do indeed measure just about all their activities in order to make sure they are on their way to success. And that’s a good thing, because, as the old adage goes, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

That adage was running through my head as I read the feature in this issue about Sentara Healthcare managing vendor access to its facilities. I thought about how we often quantify and measure our relationships. You see it every day on the most basic level. In our corner of the industry, salespeople walk into hospitals selling products to meet their quotas, while buyers keep a keen on eye on metrics to make sure that they stay within budget.

It struck me that the buyers and sellers each have objectives that are at direct odds with each other. The sales rep has to sell more, and the buyer has to stay in budget. And now we have hospitals and health systems all over the United States making their relationship more formal by having a check-in, identification and registration process for visiting vendors.

I understand the logic for vendor access programs, and they are probably well overdue. But I would like to see more instances where suppliers and their IDNs and hospital clients have aligned their objectives. And yes, these would be objectives that can be measured and used to ensure that all are working toward the same goal.

What would those objectives be? Perhaps patient outcomes. Wouldn’t it be great if both a buyer and a sales rep received a quarterly bonus or a Rolex because people’s health improved!

Is it too grandiose to think that the goals of suppliers and clients can be truly aligned? Perhaps having divergent objectives is somehow healthier than having objectives that coincide with one another. I’m not sure. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

About the Author

John Pritchard
John Pritchard is the publisher of The Journal of Healthcare Contracting.