Leader of the Pack

By Laura Thill

When Catholic Health Initiatives was ready to launch its Contract Implementation Workgroup, Jamie Smigel was prepared to lead.

JHC-June2015-MOF-JamieSmigelWhen Jamie Smigel, manager, contracting analytics, joined Catholic Health Initiatives in 2012, she brought with her a diverse mix of perspectives. With career experience ranging from athletic training and exercise physiology to ties to a group purchasing organization, she was more than prepared to address the organization’s supply chain needs. When, shortly after assuming her new role, she was tasked with assisting her supervisor in organizing the CHI Contract Implementation Workgroup (CIW), she was onboard.

Lead, manage, resolve and assist
“We began the Contract Implementation Workgroup in January, 2013,” says Smigel, whose job has been to lead and manage the group. “I have worked very closely with my supervisor and director of contracting analytics, Ellen Banasiak, who thought of the concept for the group and deserves credit for helping to bring the right people together and encouraging our leadership to prioritize and support the project.”

The CIW was developed as a means of engaging teams representing supply chain operations, clinical value analysis, contracting and supply chain technology to review new group purchasing organization (GPO) contract launches, primarily for med/surg products, as well as prioritize work at the national level. The focus largely has been on sole-source status, non-contract spend, overall savings opportunity, ease of conversion, and support of diversity and sustainability vendors. The workgroup has strived to accomplish several additional objectives, including:

  • Embody CHI’s culture of supplier diversity and sustainability.
  • Develop and prepare standardized implementation reports with spend, savings and conversion plan by facility.
  • Provide assistance and support where needed by Divisional Contract Managers and Clinical Value Analysis team.
  • Achieve 90 percent compliance within 90 days or fill out a contract exception request.
  • Incorporate a performance metrics dashboard into Lawson Analytics by supply chain technology, and track and monitor spend.
  • Include supply chain compliance in semi-annual strategic and operational reports and divisional reviews.

Smigel has played a major role in leading the CIW. “The group meets monthly,” she explains. “We present data on contract opportunities, make recommendations and prioritize CHI-wide implementations, which drive savings and standardization and demonstrate support for diversity suppliers and environmental sustainability.” In addition, she is responsible for managing the production, analysis, interpretation and delivery of contract implementation reports and communications for CHI-wide implementations and setting parameters for compliance tracking in Lawson. She also works with contract suppliers and the organization’s GPO, HealthTrust, to:

  • Resolve contracting and cross-reference data issues.
  • Assist with the implementation of acquired hospitals by contributing to plans and process design, analyzing data and communicating information to deliver value through the contract portfolio.
  • Serve as CHI point-of-contact with HealthTrust for spend analytics tools and services, including managing the relationship, communicating CHI requirements, ensuring problems are resolved and participating in the evaluation of new functionality.

Her background, indeed, has proven instrumental in facilitating the workgroup, Smigel points out. “Through my GPO experiences, I’ve learned that data is key,” she says. “Pulling the data together into meaningful analytics; communication; following through with education; and tracking and monitoring compliance make it all work.

“My clinical background adds an interesting perspective to my work,” she continues. “Our clinical value analysis team provides input into how our product choices affect our staff – for instance, how the products are used clinically and how they may affect patient care. I recall when I worked in a training room and the school I worked for changed the brand of athletic tape we used. The new brand was thinner. We had to use more of it and it gave many of the trainers blisters. The increased time it took us to tape the athletes and the increase in the amount of product we had to use really negated the cost savings, and we ended up having to revert back to the original brand.”

Challenges give way to success
Keeping the Contract Implementation Workgroup on track has not always been easy, Smigel admits. “Each implementation has unique challenges,” she says. “We learn something new with each project.” Getting each facility to convert to the new program within the 90-day time allotment calls for strong communication. And, prioritizing each of the CHI-wide category implementations has been tricky at times, particularly when the organization’s spend or savings has been lower, she points out. Still, with the help of CHI leadership, this, too, has been doable and the program has continued to meet with its share of success.

Smigel and her team have implemented programs in a number of categories, including endomechanicals, soft tissue biologics, interventional urology adult incontinence, topical skin adhesives, bone cement, exam gloves, surgeon gloves and blood pressure cuffs. CHI has realized nearly $17 million in savings and improved tracking, monitoring and product compliance. Standardization is at an all-time high, and the number of SKUs has been substantially reduced. “We recently implemented an exam glove formulary, which reduced our SKUs from 207 to 32,” says Smigel. “Our clinical ream was key in making this happen.

“Everyone’s hard work and diligence has been required to achieve this success,” she continues, adding that the conversions have depended on “teamwork, national efforts and clear, concise communication.” In fact, her group received an award at a CHI annual meeting in 2014 for the cost savings it has achieved.

A look ahead
Smigel believes her team’s success with CIW reflects the tip of the iceberg. There’s more to come, she points out. “Upcoming contract categories will include connective tubing, yankauers, esmark bandages, antifog and lap sponges,” she says. “We hope to have another successful formulary development in patient plastics. Our clinical team has been working with advisory boards, collecting information. My team has been reviewing current spend and cross referencing to formulary scenarios. It can take time to roll out our projects, but having buy-in from all stakeholders is key to our success. We hope to continuously improve our process by listening, and asking for – and responding to – feedback.”

 Catholic Health Initiatives

  • 105 facilities across 19 states
  • Services approximately 54 million people
  • $13.9 billion in annual operating revenue

Working with supplier partners

Jamie Smigel, manager, contracting analytics, integrated supply chain, Catholic Health Initiatives, appreciates the value her supplier partners bring to her organization. In particular, she appreciates partners who bring the following to the table:

  • A willingness to work together to achieve common goals through product education, availability to assist with product conversions, and the availability of local reps to work with hospital teams.
  • The communication of product availability and potential shortages.
  • The availability to work with the healthcare organization’s distributors.
  • A willingness to discuss strategy and timelines.

The future of healthcare

Healthcare is an ever-changing business, and supply chain experts must stay educated and prepared for what is next. Jamie Smigel, manager, contracting analytics, integrated supply chain, Catholic Health Initiatives, anticipates several things that may be in store for the industry over the next several years:

  • Continued collaboration by IDNs to achieve savings and standardization.
  • Increased utilization of vendors and products that support patient care and safety efforts.
  • Utilization of diversity and sustainability vendors.
  • Growth of clinically integrated networks.
  • Emergence of a model of healthcare delivery designed to provide better health results and lower costs through improved efficiency. (CHI participates in 13 clinically integrated networks across the country and that number is expected to continue to grow.)
  • Continued product standardizations. (CHI is expected to continue to standardize products across its organization.)

1 Comment on "Leader of the Pack"

  1. Tim Ingram | July 3, 2015 at 11:03 am |

    What this article demonstrates to me, is predictability. Supply Chain should build more predictive analytics within its processes in order to remove inconsistent methodologies across the whole spectrum of Supply Chain………..great article.

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