About Indiana University Health
Indiana University Health is the largest hospital system in Indiana by revenues, with 16 acute care hospitals, physician offices, ambulatory care ranging from home health to surgery centers, and a health plan. It has a unique partnership with Indiana University School of Medicine, the largest U.S. medical school by enrollment. The Academic Health Center in downtown Indianapolis includes Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, the state’s most comprehensive children’s hospital; and IU Health Methodist Hospital, the largest hospital in the state.
Senior Vice President, Supply Chain
Indiana University Health
Dennis Mullins was born and raised in The Bronx, New York. He holds an MBA from Amberton University and is a candidate for a doctorate in business administration from Grand Canyon University. He served in the United States Air Force for 10 years as a medical materials specialist.
Mullins joined Indiana University Health as senior vice president, supply chain operations in May 2015. (Two years later, the IDN opened a new Integrated Service Center designed to support supply chain needs for its 16-hospital system.) Prior to IU Health, he served as corporate director of supply chain integration at Baylor Scott and White Health in Dallas, Texas. He also served in supply chain roles at Shands at The University of Florida and HCA Healthcare, among other organizations. He and his wife, Andrey, have a son and three daughters.
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?
Dennis Mullins: The design, construction and implementation of IU Health’s Integrated Service Center, which opened in May 2018. This was the first service center I was able to help build from the ground up, but I had prior experience with consolidated centers with Columbia/HCA, Shands and Baylor Scott and White. A rainstorm was the event that expedited our decision at IU Health to move ahead with an integrated service center. Our building that held medical records and equipment was badly damaged, and we needed to make some short-term and long-term decisions. I felt that the integrated service center was the best business model. I visited what I consider to be best-in-class consolidated centers around the country before embarking on our project.
Our ISC will be the most innovative provider-based distribution center in the country. It is equipped with robotic goods-to-person picking technology, which will allow staff to pick low-unit-of-measure supplies at a rate of 200 lines per hour per person. This will provide an opportunity for us to distribute supplies to our 16 hospitals in an efficient and timely way. In addition to the distribution of supplies, we are also planning to convert to a self-distribution business model, which will be the primary way we will realize a return on the investment.
JHC: Please describe a project you look forward to working on in the next year.
Mullins: Next year our focus will be refining our ISC business model as well as exploring the growth and expansion of the ISC by adding other service lines that have supply chain and or logistics components. We want to be a catalyst for change. We have quite a bit of space that has yet to be built out. When we look at growth and expansion opportunities, we’ll take a look at every service line that makes sense. One of our biggest opportunities is moving into the non-acute space. We have 460 or so non-acute locations around the state. Vehicles from our reference lab already support them. With over 3,400 SKUs and our high-velocity robotics, we feel we can integrate the delivery of supplies and save quite a bit of money.
JHC: How have you improved the way you approach your profession in the last 5 to 10 years? Did you have any help doing so, or was there any particular incident that was particularly significant?
Mullins: Career growth has always been at the forefront of my approach to my profession. That’s not to say that I haven’t had help along the way. I’d have to say that my wife, Audrey Mullins, has been my biggest help. She’s kept me grounded, motivated and focused the last 22 years; not to mention that I’ve never had to worry about home during this journey. She’s kept that stress away from me. I’m truly thankful.
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?
Mullins: As the healthcare supply chain has evolved into what it is today, there is a gap in practical experience between supply chain professionals at the hospitals and those working the corporate office (i.e., purchasing and contracting). The challenge will be how we bridge that gap so we don’t create two distinct career paths. This is critical, because they are intrinsically interconnected, thereby impacting the whole supply chain. My concern is that it can create an us-against-them culture as well as impede career growth opportunities for those that want to cross that bridge.