Director, HCA Healthcare Contracting, HealthTrust
The Journal of Healthcare Contracting: What is the most challenging or rewarding project you’ve worked on in the last 12 to 18 months?
Nathan Overton: Certainly top of mind for everyone in supply chain during that period was supporting our members and caregivers as they faced the challenges of the global health emergency.
In my normal “day job,” I work as a dedicated resource supporting HCA Healthcare supply chain from a contracting and business perspective. Typically, I’m negotiating terms and conditions for contracts, pricing and related administrative activities associated with the contracting process. When COVID emerged, around March 17, 2020, that was the last “normal” day for quite some time. Our team had to quickly pivot to full-time operational and emergency operations support for HCA Healthcare.
My responsibility for the majority of the time was sourcing respiratory and high flow oxygenation equipment to support identified needs across the enterprise. This involved everything from making supplier contacts, sourcing and securing the appropriate equipment, coordinating purchase orders, as well as the logistics of staging the equipment for ultimate deployment to the hospitals. Overnight, I went from a purely contracting role to operations support. Everyone at HealthTrust was doing anything and everything possible to support the membership. It was a very interesting and challenging time. I definitely learned a lot despite the seemingly chaotic conditions.
JHC: What changes do you think are here to stay in supply chain as a result of the last 12 to 14 months?
Overton: The first things that come to mind are working remotely and flexibility in scheduling. I think these will be trends going forward. This might impact healthcare slightly less than other sectors but I think we were already going down that path before the pandemic; it just accelerated things. The other side of that coin is that with remote opportunities and increased flexibility, you are always on, so to speak, so I think the delineation between work hours and non-work hours – especially with the geographic footprint of HCA Healthcare and the many events such as natural disasters that we prepare for – will always be a focus area that we will manage. More specific to supply chain, I think the collaboration that was born out of COVID will grow and expand. Not just collaboration across various silos and functional areas, but collaboration between IDNs as well. The work effort on ventilators and developing the Dynamic Ventilator Reserve is a great example of this idea being put into practice. Especially in times of crisis, I think we will see more public-private collaboration among hospitals and health systems.
JHC: What project or initiative are you looking forward to working on?
Overton: From a contracting perspective, I’ve worked in a lot of different categories: cardiovascular products were an area where I spent a lot of time, I’ve also negotiated categories spanning from major capital equipment to trauma products and implants. More recently, I’ve focused on the robotics space as well as Neuro service line categories like Neurovascular and pain management implants and associated products.
Obviously, robotics – especially robotic assisted surgery – continues to be a growth category with new suppliers coming to market frequently. There’s definitely a lot to learn, but I also believe there’s a lot of benefit to the organization that comes from being involved in contracting efforts focused on the robotics category. I look forward to continuing to learn and developing knowledge in the robotics category while I work to implement strategies, contracts and initiatives that will drive even more value to our membership.
JHC: Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?
Overton: I have been blessed in my career to work for some exceptional leaders. Currently, I report to Ryan Compton and Fred Keller. They are great leaders and I’ve learned a lot from them. They have helped our team navigate the complexities of both our day-to-day work and the supply chain and enterprise support efforts during the pandemic. I can’t imagine navigating the pandemic the last 12-15 months without leaders like Ryan and Fred. Fred’s been doing this for a long time. He is well respected throughout the industry. Ryan too, has a lot of experience and I feel this helps us collaborate and drive execution as we continue to provide new value for HCA Healthcare.
Earlier in my career, I worked for Sean Heltsley and Bill Kellar. Sean introduced me to contracting and negotiation. He taught me a lot about balancing my personal life with all the work-related commitments and dynamics. Same for Bill. He is not only a friend but his mentorship has been invaluable; in my opinion, he is another key driver behind my career growth and progression.
Without these mentors, I would not be the person I am today, both in my personal life and my professional career. I feel very blessed to have the leaders that I have had. One day, I hope I can take what I’ve learned and pay it forward.