TEN PEOPLE TO WATCH: Elizabeth Vinson

Yale New Haven Health (YNHHS) is Connecticut’s leading healthcare system, with 2,563 licensed beds across five hospitals – Bridgeport, Greenwich, Lawrence + Memorial, Yale New Haven and Westerly; as well as Northeast Medical Group, an 800+ physician foundation of primary care and medical specialists.

Elizabeth Vinson
Director of strategic sourcing, Yale New Haven Health, New Haven, Connecticut

As a registered dietician, Vinson started her 35-year career in healthcare as a director of food services for a 300-bed Connecticut hospital. Over time, she was promoted to the role of director of materials management (DMM). For the next 10 years, she worked as a DMM for a couple of different hospitals. In 2001, she joined Neoforma Inc. as a regional director, providing EDI and data cleansing solutions to hospitals. When Neoforma was acquired by GHX, she moved to the Advisory Board Company to support its supply chain management business intelligence solution. “It was during my tenure with the Advisory Board Company that I became even more passionate about helping hospitals figure out how to leverage data to drive savings across all categories of non-labor spend,” she says. She joined Yale New Haven Health eight years ago.

Vinson leads a team of four managers and 60 employees, who are responsible for sourcing, negotiating and procuring all supplies and services for YNHHS’s five acute-care hospitals, ambulatory sites and physicians’ offices. Her department also has strategic relationships with four affiliate hospitals in Connecticut, and provides supply chain services to them. Her teams work through the health system’s value analysis structure, collaborating with clinicians, physicians and staff to establish contracts for a formulary of supplies and services.


JHC: What is the most challenging and/or rewarding supply-chain-related project in which you have been involved in the past 12-18 months?

Elizabeth Vinson: Yale New Haven Health’s annual non-salary spend is over $1 billion. We have historically leveraged nine interdisciplinary “Non-Labor Committees” (NLCs) to drive product and service savings projects. Examples of the NLCs included cardiac services, surgical services, pharmacy, IT facilities, med/surg (general med) and service contracts. We were doing great work, but we wanted to get to the next level and really change behavior. So we have worked with executive, physician and nursing leaders across the health system to establish the next iteration of our committee structure. We now have a Clinical Governance Committee (CGC), chaired by a surgeon, with physician and nursing representation across our health system. The CGC is taking an active role in reviewing project analytics with us, prioritizing initiatives and convening task forces to work with Supply Chain. Through these physician-led task forces, we have been able to make sustainable decisions based on clinical evidence, reducing variation and driving high quality patient care. The physician-led task forces have driven record-breaking savings for Yale New Haven Health.


JHC: Please describe a project on which you look forward to working in the next year.

Vinson: In addition to meeting our financial goals to drive $50 million in nonlabor reduction in the next fiscal year, I am excited about four major projects on which the supply chain team will work over the next 12 months. Any one of these projects could be all-consuming, but it is exciting to be part of a team that is tackling all four simultaneously:

  • We are in the midst of rolling out a Governance Structure, similar to the CGC, for other key areas of non-labor. Examples include Purchased Services and Pro Fee, Nursing, Operations Governance and Ancillary Services.
  • Two hospitals joined YNHHS last year, and we are integrating our supply chain staffs, policies, procedures and savings initiatives.
  • We are upgrading our Lawson ERP System to the new INFOR 11 cloud-based Supply Chain Integrated Business Planning solution. This will dramatically change the way we perform core strategic sourcing functions.
  • We are finalizing a business plan to build a dedicated integrated service center for our health system and affiliate organizations. Our plan is to partner with our med/surg distributor to provide the traditional distribution services while our internal team focuses on other services to potentially centralize within the new building.


JHC: In what way(s) have you improved the way you approach your job or profession in the last five to 10 years?

Vinson: First, I have become extremely data-driven. Earlier in my career, I would approach meetings, projects, challenges and conversations with a “wait and see” attitude. Today I am extremely prepared for whatever the task is. That involves analyzing data and fact finding, taking the time to identify stakeholders, understanding both internal and external data, initiating informal conversations, etc. Second, I have become very comfortable with change. Having an open-minded approach and embracing change has been a critical element to successfully navigating the supply chain healthcare world. At YNHHS I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with high-caliber professionals who are “change agents” in their respective fields. This provides a very fulfilling work environment, which energizes me every day!


JHC: What do you need/want to do to become a better supply chain executive in the coming year(s)?

Vinson: I want to enhance and improve our ability to recruit, retain, develop and promote high-quality people to be part of our team. A colleague and I presented at Vizient’s “Connections Summit” conference in Las Vegas, and our session topic was “Investing in Our Employees to Become Future Supply Chain Leaders.” According to the 2016 Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM) “Comparison of Compensation Survey,” 66 percent of the 1,025 professionals who responded to the survey are over 46 years of age. Our demographics are similar; we have an aging workforce. As a leadership team, we are committed to employee development for our younger staff and investing in strategic succession planning. Some of the steps we have undertaken include sponsoring Certified Materials & Resource Professional (CMRP) certification training classes, encouraging staff to participate in LEAN training classes, and reimbursing employees to join AHRMM and take the CMRP exam.

1 Comment on "TEN PEOPLE TO WATCH: Elizabeth Vinson"

  1. Well deserved!!!

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