Fiercely Independent

IHN Sourcing Group members maintain their independence through cooperation

Shawn Katusin

A well-run IDN supply chain probably wouldn’t tolerate purchasing 50-some unique IV start kits from six or seven suppliers. But spread those numbers over 20+ independent hospitals and contracting teams, and they make more sense – if not more savings.

IHN Sourcing Group – a network of 26 independent hospitals in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia and New Jersey – tackled the IV-start-kit challenge a couple of years ago, and after several months of research and interaction, contracted for just three kits from one supplier. “We generated significant savings,” says Executive Director Shawn Katusin. “And the benefits weren’t just financial, but clinical as well, because those three kits contain best-in-class products.”

Founded by five hospitals in 1996, IHN gives independent hospitals a choice in how they can better serve their local communities while providing affordable healthcare, says Katusin. “The IHN is a conduit that allows independent hospitals to remain independent while achieving great savings in many different buckets, from med/surg, to commodities, physician preference items, distribution, lab, pharmacy and purchased services.”

Managing 80 to 100 new contracts on an annual basis, IHN takes care of a large percentage of its members’ contracting needs, Katusin points out. In addition, IHN offers clinical quality value analysis (CQVA), onsite support and help organizing CEO and physician committees to help drive contract decisions and compliance.

Although independent, IHN has strategically aligned itself with Vizient. All members participate in Vizient contracts, and Vizient offers IHN dedicated resources, such as subject matter experts, purchased-services consultants and even assistance with membership recruiting. That said, Vizient does not manage or hold a vote on IHN operational decisions.

IHN improved its analytics capabilities in 2015 by implementing Vizient DataLYNX™, which provides IHN an overview of total spend by category for the network, with the ability to drill down by member and provide line-item detail, says Katusin.

“DataLYNX has allowed the data to be cleansed so that the IHN and its members have good clean data to review,” he says. The data gathered in DataLYNX allows the IHN to review pricing discrepancies between members by product category or by contract, and identify price parity opportunities.

“Our members want to stay fiercely independent, so we have to get creative in the future,” says Katusin. Best-product-best-price will always be important to them. But IHN will continue to look at creative contracting methodologies and strategic partnership opportunities.

“We’ll continue to grow our network strategically, and we’ll provide more resources to our members to ensure their long-term success in our network. The motto of our network is to ‘Embrace the Challenge and Opportunity.’ This is even more important today as we try to navigate the difficult terrain of healthcare supply chain.”

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