Consensus Builder

A unique perspective has enabled one supply chain leader to identify with his clinical customers and bring consensus to the table.

By Laura Thill

Providing leadership for supply chain is challenging at any IDN, but perhaps especially so at New York-Presbyterian Hospital (NY, NY). The IDN is reported to be one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive hospital systems, with more than 2,600 beds, and 4,571 attending physicians and 21,747 staff who provide state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at seven major centers including The Allen Hospital, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center, Westchester Division, Lower Manhattan Hospital, and Lawrence Hospital. In 2013 alone, the IDN had more than 2 million inpatient and outpatient visits, including 14,600 deliveries and 311,731 visits to its emergency departments.

For Anand S. Joshi, MD, MBA, vice president, procurement and strategic sourcing, it has been a welcome challenge to provide leadership to his department’s nearly 250 full-time employees, across six campuses, and an administrative center. Over his ten years with the hospital, Joshi has been credited with building a talented team that bring expertise in health care, legal, finance and consulting. He motivates his staff and keeps them engaged, and boasts a departmental overall job satisfaction score of 86 percent, substantially higher than the 82 percent national norm for academic teaching hospitals.

A unique perspective
To a large degree, Joshi attributes his ability to identify with the needs of physicians and executives, and build consensus around challenging issues, to his background in consulting. Prior to joining New York-Presbyterian Hospital 10 years ago as clinical procurement director, he spent four years as a consultant with McKinsey & Company.

“My prior work experience as a consultant has helped me in a number of ways because much of what my team does in the sourcing arena is bringing different parties together around some common issue,” he says. “That’s not dissimilar to what consultants are often asked to do: build consensus and agreement on challenging issues. Most often, with regard to the work we are currently doing in the hospital, the common issue is to complete a contract. But, this can extend beyond that as well.

“I think my experience consulting for suppliers and pharmaceutical companies in the past has made it easier to put myself in their shoes as we look to partner on contracts that are mutually beneficial,” Joshi continues. “Being able to take different viewpoints on an issue can help us get to true win-win solutions.”

That said, effective supplier partnerships require a joint effort, he notes. “I think, above all else, truly effective supplier partnerships are built on trust,” he says. “I think it’s critical to have trust between all of the various levels of an organization that are working together for a true partnership to be realized. Ultimately, suppliers, like hospitals, are made up of individuals, and how these individuals interact with each other either creates or hinders the opportunity for effective partnership.”

Forward thinking
It would be difficult to dispute that Joshi’s unique perspective has led to his success in his current position as vice president of procurement and strategic sourcing, which includes oversight of the entire procurement and supply chain function at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. “Our hospital consists of six campuses all operating under a single-provider number, and we are now the active parent of an affiliate hospital in southern Westchester (Lawrence Hospital),” he says. “Our 2013 supplies and other expenses line, as reported in our financial statements, was approximately $1.2 billion. As we continue to grow our network, we will continue to leverage our centralized procurement function in these new relationships.”

One of the most challenging projects for Joshi and his team has been planning for – and implementing – an ambitious print management initiative across the entire hospital system. “With a total-cost-of-ownership of greater than $5 million annually, our direct expenses for printing, duplicating and faxing are significant,” he points out. “However, to make a truly meaningful impact on this expense over time, we really need to change the mindset of our entire organization on what it means to manage our printing environment more efficiently. It’s an opportunity to meld procurement with classic project and change management, which is both exciting and rewarding when it works!”

Potentially, the next couple of years could be equally rewarding for Joshi and his team. “The overall number of the hospitals and campuses for which we will be responsible for sourcing will have nearly doubled from when I first started at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital,” he says. “Fully leveraging the benefits of the incremental scope, while also taking advantage of all the fantastic work in the realm of procurement that’s already been done at some of these hospitals, will be an enormous challenge. Implementing this type of expansion plan will require significant project planning expertise and execution of skill, in order to capture the bottom line impact as rapidly as possible.”