Future Leaders: Ryan Rotar

Ryan Rotar
Executive Director Supply Chain
UNC Health Care, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

About Ryan Rotar:
Born outside of Cleveland, Ohio, but raised in Redondo Beach, California, Ryan Rotar pursued a degree in gaming management while attending the University of Nevada Las Vegas. But before he completed that degree, he found himself drawn back to healthcare. No surprise, as he began working in hospitals at age 15 (thanks to his mom, Nancy, who worked in the radiology oncology department at Torrance Memorial Medical Center). He worked at Torrance a total of nine years, first as a radiology aide, later as a surgical instrument tech and finally a supply chain analyst. (He ultimately got a business degree from the University of Sioux Falls.)

“I found myself gravitating to areas that supported successful surgery – preference card management, IT systems, case picking, instrument sterilization, implant trays, etc.,” he says of his years at Torrance. While still there, he had the opportunity to pivot into supply chain to optimize an ERP system and focus on end-user training and inventory operations. He has been in supply chain ever since. He joined UNC Health Care in 2016 as system director of value analysis and project management. In May 2019, he was named executive director of supply chain operations.

About UNC Health Care:
UNC Health Care is a not-for-profit integrated healthcare system owned by the state of North Carolina and based in Chapel Hill. Established in November 1998, UNC Health Care currently comprises UNC Hospitals and its provider network, the clinical programs of the UNC School of Medicine, and eleven affiliate hospitals and hospital systems across the state.

Most interesting/challenging project in the past 12-18 months:
“In the last 18 months I’ve focused heavily on optimizing our centralized warehouse operations,” he says. “I’ve not only had to tackle many base functions of a successful supply chain – item master, EDI, inventory management, vendor negotiations, etc. – but I’ve had to change the way I think. I’ve had to understand distributor economics and how a healthcare system could be successful in monetizing classic distribution activity.”

To be successful, the supply chain executive must approach the centralized warehouse as a business supporting healthcare, says Rotar. “When you’re running this kind of operation, you can’t do it on feelings or emotions, but on data-backed decisions that are rooted in sound business practices.” Doing so not only improves the center’s performance, but makes the health system – in this case, UNC Health Care – a viable long-term career choice for young people who could, if they wanted, seek employment with any number of commercial logistics organizations. “In the past, people would leave one healthcare organization to work for another one,” he says. “Now, people are leaving to work for Amazon or another 3PL. So in this regard, we have to change the way we staff, recruit and run our operations.”

Looking forward to:
“At UNC, we are questioning and changing many foundational aspects of our business,” says Rotar. Rapid growth has forced administration to focus on scalability, adaptability and maneuverability. “We just solidified a better relationship with our GPO. We are changing our distribution partner. We are investing in our point-of-use inventory system, and we are redeploying value analysis as strategic sourcing.”

“Seldom does someone in supply chain leadership get the opportunity to build a system from the ground up. Often, you settle for incremental change. But a year from now, our supply chain will look 180 degrees different than it does today. I’m blessed to be a part of all these changes.”

Biggest challenge/change facing healthcare supply chain professionals in the next 5 years:

“I feel that the biggest challenge in the coming years is our ability to manage and create change in our organizations and ourselves. Far too often, we pass on the opportunity to change the way we think, manage and operate our teams. But as supply chain professionals, we should be constantly learning, growing and exploring opportunities for our organizations and patients. Gone are the days when we could have niche experience and be successful. Now, we have no choice but to be knowledgeable in nearly all facets of supply chain and the business of providing care. Keeping up with the sheer amount of change is a job in itself.”