BJC HealthCare is one of the largest nonprofit healthcare organizations in the United States, delivering services to residents primarily in the greater St. Louis, southern Illinois and mid-Missouri regions. Serving the healthcare needs of urban, suburban and rural communities, BJC includes 15 hospitals and multiple health service organizations. Services include inpatient and outpatient care, primary care, community health and wellness, workplace health, home health, community mental health, rehabilitation, long-term care and hospice. BJC’s academic hospitals – Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals – are affiliated with Washington University School of Medicine.
Steve Kiewiet started his healthcare career in high school, when he served as a member of the volunteer ambulance crew in his hometown. He spent 10 years as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy, after which he worked as a paramedic while finishing his college education. After college, he was a pharmaceutical sales rep before moving to distribution, logistics and operations with a large national distributor serving the physician office market. He then moved into a business development role with a company that manufactures automated external defibrillators. After that, he joined Cardinal Health, where he had three different roles in Lean Six Sigma process improvement, product/category management and distribution operations. He landed in his current role at BJC HealthCare in December 2012.
His primary responsibility at BJC is supply chain operations, distribution/logistics, inventory planning/management along with centralized purchasing and the corporate travel/purchasing card program management. His team consists of the supply chain professionals working in BJC’s 15 hospitals, who partner everyday with the clinical and hospital operations leaders to ensure they have the supplies that are needed to support their mission in the delivery of care. Kiewiet recently assumed a co-leadership role with a peer as the chief supply chain officer for BJC HealthCare. Together they lead an organization of over 300 people, including sourcing, utilization management, analytics and process improvement professionals.
Journal of Healthcare Contracting: What has been the most challenging and/or rewarding supply-chain-related project in which you have been involved in the past 12-18 months?
Steve Kiewiet: Our inventory management system project. Our goal was to move from decentralized, periodic, manual inventory planning and management, to a centralized, perpetual automated system. This system includes the use of RFID and bar code technology to gain visibility to our inventory, from shipping by the manufacturer to final consumption in the delivery of care. We started this journey in our cardiac cath labs and have since moved into GI and Interventional Radiology, and are planning for our first move into the ORs later this year. Being able to actively manage our inventory with the ability to capture product consumption rates serves as the foundation for demand-planning, which will remove inefficiencies and waste from our processes. This project is also providing the foundation to begin working with our finance teams to move from product expense upon receipt to expense upon consumption. This gives us a much clearer picture into product waste, which is an untracked cost in most healthcare organizations today.
JHC: Please describe a project on which you look forward to working in the next year.
Kiewiet: A few of the key ones include the expansion of our RFID tracking solution into the implant space to include consigned products and the traditional “trunk stock.” We are also expanding our centralized inventory program, which is focused on medical devices and those products we cannot source through traditional distribution channels. The team is also developing new analytical views of our business to help them more effectively manage waste out of our system and processes, breaking away from some of the more traditional healthcare supply chain key performance indicators. Last is the continuation of our journey in partnering with our hospital and non-acute customers to move all supply chain activity to supply chain professionals, which frees up clinical professionals to focus on clinical activity.
JHC: How have you improved the way you approach your job or profession in the last 5-10 years?
Kiewiet: Many people in our profession spend a great deal of time honing what I call the hard skills that are necessary to build a successful career in supply chain – analytical thinking, negotiations, network/capacity planning, inventory planning, data visualization, etc. While these skills are necessary and foundational, I also believe that we have an obligation to spend as much effort in developing our soft skills – things like employee engagement, building trust, presentation/public speaking, influence skills, etc. The healthcare supply chain is on an immense transformation journey as our industry evolves into new business and care models. Supply chain leaders are also healthcare leaders, and we are a critical participant in the journey to lowering the total cost of the delivery of care while also maintaining and improving patient/employee safety, patient/employee satisfaction and quality outcomes. I have received an enormous amount of help on this journey from many mentors, bosses, peers and employees. Actively seeking input from others and using that input to continually improve my hard and soft skills has been critical to my success, along with taking the time to provide the same developmental input to others.
JHC: What do you need/want to do to become a better supply chain executive in the coming year(s)?
Kiewiet: I have a passion for our industry to advance to higher levels of transparency and collaboration – actively seeking ways to break down the firewalls and barriers to effectively manage the entire continuum of the healthcare supply chain, from raw materials to the point of use in care delivery. We need to bring together all the links in the chain to create industry solutions to industry problems. This requires becoming a true student of the industry, seeing each problem from the individual frames of reference, being willing to have passionate dialogue on disparate viewpoints to move each of us to more defined points of collaboration. My advice to myself is the same I give to those I have the privilege to lead and mentor: Work daily to master your craft, stoke in yourself the fire to always be learning, and put yourself in situations that actively challenge your views and biases. Always be a student of your profession.