Senior director, contract services | Vizient
JHC: What is the most interesting/challenging project you’ve worked on recently?
Chad Mitchell: Without question, 2020 brought its own set of obstacles. I was fortunate to be involved in standing up a COVID-19 Response Team. The team of nearly 70 worked tirelessly to provide real-time information, alternative sourcing options, conservation strategies and a number of other related services to our members and field teammates.
One of the most satisfying aspects of this work was the way so many people from different departments, companies and industries came together, prioritizing those on hospital front lines, to bring solutions during the most trying of times. Whether it was internal business units aligning and strategizing or competitive manufacturers working together to offer alternative products, the teamwork we saw was inspiring.
The work is far from over as we pivot with each new phase of the pandemic.
What began as a sourcing strategy has turned into a broader resiliency strategy. Not only are we responding to what is happening today, but we’re working closely with providers, government agencies and supply chain partners to proactively address what’s likely going to impact us next month.
I’m so proud of the way we’ve collaborated with existing partners while creating new partnerships along the way. I’m also encouraged to see new suppliers entering the health care space – driving innovation and expanding opportunities.
JHC: What projects are you looking forward to in the next six to 12 months?
Mitchell: Throughout 2021 we’ll be actively engaged in a competitive RFP for medical/surgical distribution.
This bid has been delayed due to the impact of COVID; however it’s given us an opportunity to reflect on the parameters while seeking feedback from our members to amend the contractual requirements. COVID has had such a dramatic effect on the health care supply chain – knowing that we can have the opportunity to begin to address the issues COVID has exposed and begin to bring greater transparency and accountability to the market is energizing.
As our members look to their suppliers to provide greater transparency around the origin of manufacturing, redundancy of supply and resiliency plans for future supply disruptions, we see a unique opportunity to improve on these factors through the bid process.
JHC: What is the biggest challenge/change facing health care supply chain professionals in the next 5 years?
Mitchell: It will be fascinating to see how quickly the market responds to the changing demands of the health care supply chain. This is an inflection point for health care providers and really the industry. Supply chain concepts like “just in time inventory” and “low unit of measure ordering” are being reconsidered for options that include “bulk purchasing,” “stock piling,” and “self-distribution” for some types of supplies.
While the optimal model will differ for each health system, the one thing that is apparent is that emergency preparedness will look different in the future.
Many commonly discussed concepts, such as transparency into source of raw materials and redundancy in manufacturing locations or inventory, help support the broader topic of resiliency, but its achievement will not be met without consequences (both intentional and unintentional). Containing cost while mitigating expired and outdated product will be paramount.
I believe the winners will be those who are able to stay nimble while maximizing output.
Whether this relates to a manufacturer managing idle production in order to diversify their manufacturing footprint, a provider determining how best to store and manage critical supplies without impacting revenue generation, or a distributor delivering high fill rates while managing overhead costs – all of these strategies will need to be contemplated against the value of the desired outcome.
JHC: How do you stay motivated despite conflicts and obstacles?
Mitchell: Several years back, I found myself in an unhealthy pattern of working long hours and stressing over what I couldn’t get accomplished. Conveniently, I would then make the excuse of not having time for physical fitness.
That changed when a team leader encouraged me to carve out personal time (regardless of when) on my calendar. It was the push I needed to release myself from the stress or obstacles of the day. I believe this small change helped me become a more effective employee, teammate and leader.
Though it can be challenging, it’s important to create personal time. For me, it puts me in a better headspace. I listen differently, become more present and laugh easier.
What we do isn’t easy. We’re all in a fast-paced, high-pressure industry and the result of our work impacts patients’ lives.
It’s important to give ourselves grace and remember that we are people looking for alignment with other industry stakeholders to serve our common interests.
JHC: What are the most important attributes of successful leaders today?
Mitchell: I wouldn’t have answered this the same way 10 years ago, but without question I’d lead this list with “humility.” It’s easy to be critical of the things you should have or could have done. However, the most authentic people I meet are those who admit when they’re wrong and aren’t afraid to take a chance or make a mistake in order to make an impact.
I believe the more you’re willing to lean in and put your ideas out there, the quicker you can recover if you make a mistake along the way. A phrase comes to mind: “Get back up … just don’t forget to laugh and forgive yourself.”
Another attribute I admire is an overall passion and drive for something that motivates you. Whether it’s family, sports, financial success, learning, winning, collaboration… whatever it is, I ask, does this passion motivate you every day to be the best you? Does it drive you to open the door and make that sales call, or pick up the phone and close that deal? My passion is people.
I get motivated when being around others and building off their energy and ideas.
Finally, I’d include the trait of “collaboration.” A few years back a VP of supply chain made a comment that still sticks with me. He said, “Why don’t suppliers work behind the scenes to strategize together, for the benefit of the provider, on ideas and concepts that can bring mutual benefit to all parties involved?” He went on to discuss his frustration around being put in the middle of competing value proposition only to say to both organizations, “I want to support both of you … don’t make me have to choose one.” This exchange emphasized the importance of finding mutual agreement with your customers and business partners.
I try to treat each exchange in a way where everyone benefits.