Future Leaders: Ruvini Defonseka Schultz

Ruvini Defonseka Schultz
Supply Chain Manager
Centura Health, Centennial, Colorado

About Ruvini Defonseka Schultz:
Born in Fort Collins, Colorado, Ruvini Schultz has a world of experience. Both of her parents were born and raised in Sri Lanka. Ruvini spent her early grade school years in Singapore, where her father, an engineer, assumed a five-year assignment for Hewlett-Packard. Instead of spending money on a car, her parents decided to spend their disposable income on travel. And travel they did, to China, India, Malaysia, Thailand and elsewhere.

When she was a senior in high school, Schultz was diagnosed with a systemic autoimmune disease, which resulted in many hospital stays during her college and post-graduate years. “It allowed me to experience both the positive and negative aspects of healthcare,” she says. The negative? Medical mistakes and omissions, billing errors and more. On the positive side? “I had great experiences with providers who treated me as a person, not just as a patient – who wanted to take care of me, making sure my mental health was good and my environment was healthy.”

Given a lifelong interest in life sciences, Schultz turned to healthcare administration as a potential career path. “During graduate school, a presentation about the reach of healthcare supply chain caught my attention, and I applied for an internship with [Centura Health]. Healthcare supply chain fulfilled my passion to find solutions in areas such as patient safety, cost reduction, patient education, process improvement, and value analysis.

“My personal mission statement reminds me daily what I value and want to share with others: I am on a mission to empower others, innovate processes and inspire preventive healthcare in my communities.”

At Centura Health, Schultz and her team have supply chain responsibilities for the IDN’s ambulatory facilities, including about 250 owned clinics, 10 emergency and urgent cares (EUCs), seven urgent cares, and 13 home health and hospice locations. The team also provides supply chain expertise and assistance to affiliated facilities in the Colorado Health Neighborhoods, the largest physician-led network in the region, with more than 5,300 physicians and other healthcare professionals caring for more than 260,000 people across Colorado and Kansas.

About Centura Health:
Centura Health is a network of neighborhood health centers, mountain clinics, urgent and emergency care facilities, and 17+ hospitals serving patients throughout Colorado and Kansas.

Most interesting/challenging project in the past 12-18 months:
“I was able to lead the standardization of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) procedures across ambulatory locations in our system,” she says. “The decision-makers included sports medicine physicians, ortho physicians, clinic leaders, patient safety and billing. I was able to learn from both vendors and clinicians about the clinical aspects of PRP while getting information about product quality, equipment safety, and contracts. The initiative highlighted the value of collaboration within our system and built trust in partnering with supply chain.” In fact, since then, other physicians have asked the supply chain team for assistance with standardization. “They feel comfortable reaching out to us. They trust that we are not just looking for the cheapest item, but we’re working with them from a clinical standpoint.”

Looking forward to:
“I am excited to work on an initiative with our distributor to automate supply ordering in the ambulatory space,” says Schultz. Currently, the nurses and medical assistants at the clinics may spend an hour or two every week checking inventory levels and ordering supplies – in addition to their work with physicians and patients. “We hope to save them time,” she says. Taking into account each location’s order history, the system will automatically replenish stock (though each clinic will be able to manually adjust or cancel shipments). “In order to implement the new ordering system, we are reviewing our formulary with clinical input to remove duplication in supply categories and ensure that required supplies are available.”

Biggest challenge/change facing healthcare supply chain professionals in the next 5 years:
“As healthcare systems and patients look to lower the cost of healthcare, there is a need to move minor or one-day procedures from the hospital to clinics and ambulatory surgery centers. These changes will require clinicians and other support departments to be aware of the regulatory, patient safety, billing and operational implications this creates in ambulatory spaces. We are starting to see more technology and equipment manufactured for specialty procedures in the ambulatory space, and we will need processes in place to properly review and implement these systems.”