Supply Chain: Where Does Your Responsibility End?

Have you ever asked yourself this question, “Where does your responsibility end?  Is it at the receiving dock, nursing floors or your operating room suite? Or, is it “anything that moves and isn’t alive”, (as Chuck Housley supply chain guru of the 80s is famous for saying) between the walls of your healthcare organization?

I ask this question because there are so many new products, services and technologies entering the portals of your healthcare organization that someone needs to take responsibility for vetting, tracking and really understanding these new modalities, or your hospital, system or IDNs supply cost will skyrocket and controls will be nonexistent.

For instance, pharmaceutical-waste disposal systems are becoming a high priority for hospitals. Who, besides your pharmacist, is value justifying their use?   Are you negotiating your transcription service contracts? How about your food and nutritionals contracts are they under your responsibility or are they the sole purview of your food service department?  Not to mention your travel, subscription and dues expenses that are costing your hospital hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

When I was a supply chain manager I saw no limits to my responsibility; if it was bought by my hospital, system or IDN then I saw it as my obligation to ensure that my healthcare organization was obtaining the “best value” for our coveted dollars.  I challenged my food service, pharmacy, laboratory, and maintenance directors on what and how they were buying. I centralized all purchasing no matter what was being bought. I even got involved in menu and food selection, chemicals we used in environmental service, window washing and snow removal. You name it and I had my arms around what we were buying.

I considered it a matter of pride, due diligence and cost management. If I wasn’t looking in depth at my healthcare organization’s supply chain costs — then who would?  You should feel the same way.  There should be no end to your supply, logistics and value analysis responsibilities at your healthcare organization.  By doing so, you will quickly become an expert on everything your hospital, system or IDN is buying.  This will enable you to ferret out all waste and inefficiency in your supply streams, not just in your traditional areas of responsibility.  

Don’t worry about getting your hands slapped by your management for expanding your responsibilities, because you will actually be filling a vacuum that your management will applaud you for doing.  They hired you to save money, ensure compliance and safeguard that every supply dollar budgeted is spent wisely.  Conversely, they didn’t hire you to ignore, deny or avoid new and better savings opportunities for your healthcare organization no matter where they reside. So where does your supply chain responsibility end?  It’s wherever you want the finish line to be. 

Robert T. Yokl

Chief Value Strategist

Strategic Value Analysis® in Healthcare

www.strategicva.com

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