Ten People to Watch: Eric Berger

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Eric Berger, director of materials management

Northeast Hospitals, Beverly, Mass.

300 beds across two acute care hospitals, one inpatient psychiatric hospital, one ambulatory care/outpatient surgery center, 17 physician practices. Annual supply and purchased services spend of approximately $90 million.

The Journal of Healthcare Contracting: What has been the most challenging and rewarding project you have been involved in recently?

Eric Berger: Over the last 18 or so months, we evaluated new GPO relationships and made the decision to change ours.  We have completed the analysis of the RFP responses, coordinated the change, signed letters of commitment and participation, and ensured that the correct pricing was loaded across the entire supply chain spectrum. Communications and change management were essential in all aspects of this decision.  We coordinated product conversions and evaluations with our various value analysis teams and broke down some long-standing relationships, not just with our old GPO.

JHC: What is the biggest change we can expect to see in healthcare contracting in the next five years?

Berger: I think that the biggest change will be a heightened awareness of the supply chain and, more specifically, contracting, by the C-suite.  Facilities will wrestle with GPO relationships vs. self-contracting.  At the same time, senior leaders will need to evaluate what those decisions will require from a staffing and skill set perspective.  The old days of doing more with less won’t work in tough times. You can’t expect to identify and implement the kinds of savings that organizations will require in the future with today’s staffing models.  Strategic sourcing and physician preference item contracting and management require a different skill set than the traditional paper pushing organizational structure, and those skills have not historically been in place in most organizations.

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