Ten Years of The Journal of Healthcare Contracting

A look at headlines from the debut issue

Cutting costs while improving revenues. Seeking more alignment on physician preference items. IDNs looking for value in purchasing contracts with flexibility when they need it. All important goals of hospitals, health systems, and the group purchasing organizations and suppliers that serve them in today’s marketplace, right?

The same held true ten years ago. These were some of the themes from The Journal of Healthcare Contracting’s debut issue in 2004.

“It struck me as unusual that there wasn’t a publication dedicated to this dynamic and growing marketplace,” said John Pritchard in his Publisher’s Letter. “So when I discussed the idea of starting a magazine dedicated to contracting, a number of industry experts gave me the same response over and over again: It’s about time!

“The stakeholders in the contracting arena, including GPOs, IDNs, manufacturers and service suppliers, and distributors deserve to have a magazine dedicated to their profession. I hope The Journal of Healthcare Contracting will serve as the map and compass for your journey in healthcare contracting.”

The contracting conversation
In the debut issue, JHC asked MedAssets Founder and Chairman John Bardis what a supplier needs to do to have to successfully contract with MedAssets.

“Its contract pricing must be competitive, of course,” Bardis said. “But at the same time, our clients are looking to total value created, meaning the total impact of products and services on the cost and quality of care. They want to see a quantifiable impact and reporting improvements. Add a certain degree of flexibility to work with providers of different shapes and sizes to round out the successful offering.”

Bill McIlhargey offered suggestions for contracting executives on successfully navigation physician preference item discussions. Among his suggestions:

  • Start where the action is. This doesn’t mean that arm’s-length influences could not be part of the solution, but rather, that values, opportunities and perceptions reside locally and need to be resolved there.
  • Throw away standard buying/selling models. Line item benchmarking, cross-reference evaluations and SKU pricing are not the tools we’re looking for here. Realize that understanding and innovation are the keys to success, and that they can only exist after both sides strip away their egos and place their strengths and weaknesses on the table for collaborative leverage.

“As John Pritchard notes in his Publisher’s Letter, we are dedicated to helping provide insight, understanding and a sense of community to everyone in the contracting arena,” wrote Editor Mark Thill in his first Observation Deck. “Doing so won’t be easy all the time. There are so many different interests and perspectives in this business. And we all know that. But we owe it to each other and to all of this country’s patients to try.”

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