Nicholas M. Trzeciak

Nicholas Trzeciak

CMRP, administrative director of distribution & logistics – supply chain | Stanford Health Care

JHC: What is the most interesting/challenging project you’ve worked on recently?

Nicholas Trzeciak: The most challenging project we’ve worked on recently has been our overall pandemic response work. It’s not necessarily a project in the traditional sense, but it brought to light the gaps within the global supply chain.

When faced with the reality, we saw that beyond firefighting in the moment, that we needed to respond in a project management mindset to not just put out the flames, but also build a better house.

We designed into the system a governance model heavily weighted toward clinical engagement in which we pulled together all departments (employee health, infection control, supply chain, nursing, OR, emergency management, etc.) to ensure we had all players at the table. This committee was responsible for all PPE recommendations, educational document creation, conservation efforts, and clinical practice changes. This group then linked with our physician-led group for final approval and roll out.

We created a technology integrated model by leveraging our intranet site and posted over 100+ educational documents & videos for training that garnered over 579,000 views from frontline team members. This team also stood up a reprocessing & n95 requesting process, rolled out anchored CAPR/PAPR hardware to direct front-line COVID units, and assisted with numerous community engagement activities (testing sites, vaccine rollouts, and clinical trials).

The results from all this work have been incredibly humbling to see what a diverse, clinically integrated team can put together to help serve our clinicians, patients and communities safely and effectively. This is a model that has paid dividends, not only in terms of pandemic response, but also in terms of solving extant process issues that preceded it.

JHC: What projects are you looking forward to in the next six to 12 months?

Trzeciak: I am looking forward to our continued expansion of our RFID tracking and ordering system. The efficiencies it will bring for not only our team, but our end users are incredible. One of the biggest issues facing distribution these days is this: How do you know when your supplies at point of use are at risk? Not just from the external market, but just from day-to-day utilization patterns.

We think these patterns are flat, and for those outside of health care this remains relatively true, but within health care our utilization is inconsistent at best. Whether it’s days of the week aligning with clinical rotations for things such as line change day, a service lines block in the OR, and more, each scenario has a unique subset of products associated to it.

These patterns make us more reactive, especially in today’s environment.

RFID has the capability to give us in real time utilization patterns set at specific supply levels. Whether this is by PAR style design (Min/Max) or by criticality of the product, we can set predetermined alerts to align better with supply pulls than only relying on our normal cycle time of replenishment. For our teams, this means a more responsive, proactive, and value-added process. I hear a lot of times that our current model is as good as it can be, but for our patients and clinicians, I choose not to accept good enough as good enough.

By looking at each step within the process you find hidden, non-value-added steps. By looking at an entire process, that on the surface is seen as value add, but actually takes time away from other areas that need supply chain support.

These small but crucial steps can move us from a reactive mindset to a proactive replenishment supply cycle creating value and maximizing our resources. By leveraging RFID to provide this extra level of supply replenishment support, we truly move the needle in becoming a more clinically integrated supply chain.

JHC: What is the biggest challenge/change facing health care supply chain professionals in the next 5 years?

Trzeciak: To me the biggest challenge is we can not think that we will go back to “business as usual” in the post pandemic world. This is simply not possible. The pandemic has and will forever change the way we look at everything we do from product sourcing to the resiliency of our distribution and logistics processes.

We have seen how fragile most distributors and supply pipelines are when faced with a global disruption event. The initial global response was almost a case of denial at how much disruption would even occur, but the sobering reality was tough for groups that run very lean LUM programs, track only to high inventory turns, or focus on lowering holding costs for savings.

The way forward will require the discipline to answer the following: How will we view the importance of resiliency within the overall supply chain? More importantly, how do you improve your internal processes to be able to absorb future supply disruptions with minimal impact to the end users?

When this is all said and done, I think more people will be focused on a value equation of balancing product multi-sourcing, 3PL strategies, pre-determined substitute products coupled with a deeper review of where and how products are manufactured around the globe. This later point really speaks to the balance between lowering the cost of goods when manufacturers outsource the work versus a full understanding of the risks this can pose to health care.

 JHC: How do you stay motivated despite conflicts and obstacles?

Trzeciak: Knowing that every day I get to go into work with this amazing and inspiring team all focused on the mission of helping people is the best way I know of to stay motivated. As the leader of a large team, it’s important for me to be with the team supporting them however is needed.

How can I ask someone to do something I am not willing to do myself? The supply chain team is very much an unseen but vital part of every health care institution. At times it may seem like what we do gets overlooked, but our work touches every facet of almost every industry.

We have a motto at Stanford Health Care: “One Team, One Dream.” This is personified by every single one of our team members. They meet every challenge with a smile and a positive attitude that cannot be beat every single day.

Their work helps clinicians provide world-class care to our patients and the communities we serve. If this is not motivating, then I do not know what is.

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