Wellforce is a health system in eastern Massachusetts comprised of Tufts Medical Center, Circle Health, and MelroseWakefield Healthcare, as well as physician organizations. Wellforce, with four community hospital campuses, an academic medical center, a children’s hospital and nearly 3,000 physicians, brings together the strengths of academic medicine and community care. The Wellforce system reaches from Cape Cod to the New Hampshire border.
Senior Vice President of Supply Chain
Christopher Johnson has 20-plus years of healthcare supply chain experience working for the United States Army, Children’s Hospital Boston, Yankee Alliance, Owens & Minor, Tufts Medical Center, and now Wellforce. Born and raised in Maine, he joined the United States Army in 1996, and served as medical supply and logistics specialist. Over the course of his career, he has worked with more than 60 hospitals in various roles – value analysis, strategic contracting, analytics, streamlining dock to point-of-use for supplies, evaluating impact of add-on and cancelled cases to the supply chain, and implementing cost reduction programs focused around utilization review studies. He is currently the president of the New England Society for Healthcare Materials Management (NESHMM), a chapter of the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM). He and his wife, Julie, live in Upton, Mass., with their two children.
Journal of Healthcare Contracting: Can you describe the most challenging and/or rewarding supply-chain-related project in which you have been involved in the past 12-18 months?
Christopher Johnson: Building out the Future State Supply Chain Organization Structure for Wellforce is the most rewarding and challenging project to date in my supply chain career. It’s exciting to take what I have learned over the past 22 years, pick the brains of my seasoned and knowledgeable supply chain leaders, and collaborate with Wellforce senior leaders on this future state. We have an opportunity to implement best practices, address needed changes, factor in the changing healthcare landscape (not only acquisitions and mergers, but natural disasters, such as the Puerto Rico situation), and build out a world-class supply chain team and structure.
JHC: Please describe a project you look forward to working on in the next year.
Johnson: Developing and finalizing our Wellforce contracting philosophy. Where applicable, our goal is to have service-level agreements in place that are governed by metrics and share the risks with our manufacturing partners. We are taking a methodical approach on what our future state looks like and how supply chain will be able to support these contracts through analytics and business intelligence. This is certainly not new to the industry, and we’ve been working with several of our major business partners over the past year to develop contracts that are in the best interest of both the vendor and Wellforce.
JHC: How have you improved the way you approach your profession in the last five to 10 years? Did you have any help doing so, or was there any particular incident that was particularly significant?
Johnson: Adapt or die! It’s harsh, but it’s the reality of being a supply chain leader in healthcare. I’ve worked in the Boston healthcare market for most of my career, and throughout the last 10 years, I have taken advantage of networking opportunities. You quickly learn that the challenges you are facing are the same ones your peers are facing, so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. I’ve also learned that projects can’t be done in a vacuum. If you lean on subject matter experts, find out what is working and what’s not working, and level set on goals and expected outcomes, you’ll be amazed what the end result looks like. I’ve had a great deal of help along the way and have been fortunate to work with some incredible leaders. Co-workers, peers and friends have pushed me along the way. My parents have always been wonderful role models, and my wife, Julie, has been a rock throughout the past 20 years. She is the glue that keeps everything together at home and has supported my long hours and travel to allow me to pursue my career.
JHC: In your opinion, what will be some of the challenges or opportunities facing the next generation of supply chain professionals? What should they be doing now to prepare to successfully meet those challenges and opportunities?
Johnson: Supply chain leaders will need to work more closely with IT to tighten up practices and processes associated with the evaluation of new products, technology and equipment. Developing and defining the IT security risk a vendor poses through scorecards and dashboards is well underway, and will continue to evolve and drive us to change our value analysis approach.
In addition, tomorrow’s professionals will need to understand supply chain outside of the hospital. The constant pressure to reduce length of stay and the technology that is ready to support homecare will force us to think and act differently. Educate yourself on how supply chain works for a surgery center, skilled nursing facility, home health, hospice and the doctor’s office. Supplies and equipment will always be needed, but our traditional approach of stocking, managing and accounting for supplies in clinical areas will shift to delivering and managing those supplies across the continuum of care and into patients’ homes.