Where Cost and Quality Intersect

The Premier alliance expects that two of its recent hires – Gary Long and Leigh Anderson – will help carry the alliance and its members toward that point where cost and quality intersect.

New Chief Sales Officer Gary Long, who will lead Premier’s sales and sales support teams, comes to Premier with more than 20 years experience in healthcare sales and marketing leadership roles, most recently with Surgical Information Systems, and before that, McKesson Provider Technologies. (Prior to that, he held senior sales and marketing positions with several healthcare companies.)

Soon after joining Premier in December 2012, Long changed the structure of the sales organization, so that it now overlays the nine geographies of Premier’s member field services teams. “Within those nine geographies, now we have a group of people from both [member field services and sales] who can address the needs of their particular markets, because there are nuances specific to different regions of the country,” he says.

When positioning Premier’s offerings, the sales team has to take a broad-based, yet integrated, approach, to reflect alliance member needs, says Long. “Health systems today need a look into utilization, quality, safety, costs and efficiency, across the continuum. It’s not about the individual products or services we offer. It’s about how we leverage those things that help our members address the problems they’re facing.
“Especially at that more senior level, they’re tasked with removing cost, improving clinical effectiveness, remaining solvent in an environment [in which they are] adapting to and changing with new payment models. They’re looking for guidance, as much as anything else.” Premier can offer it to them given its clinical and financial expertise, as well as its involvement in healthcare policy-making in Washington, D.C., and networking opportunities it provides its members, he says.

Years of experience directing the sales and marketing efforts of healthcare services companies have positioned Long well for his current post. “There are some core tenets of being an effective sales professional,” he says. Chief among them is the ability to listen. “What has served me well is listening more than I talk,” he says. “Asking probing questions that address the core issues your customers are trying to solve, then being thoughtful about how to bring together the assets of the organization you represent to resolve those issues.”

There comes a time for detailing features and benefits … but only after the salesperson understands the customers’ needs, says Long. Information systems offer a good example, he continues. Non-technical buyers may not fully understand the technical side of information systems. “But they know what they’re trying to solve, whether it’s [implementing] electronic health records or population health management,” says Long. The sales professional’s job is to discuss the solution in such a way that the customer understands how it can address the challenges he or she is facing.

Leigh Anderson
Premier’s newly named information and technology services chief operating officer, Leigh Anderson, comes to the organization with more than 20 years of IT experience in both corporate and provider settings. He served in multiple executive roles at Global Healthcare Exchange LLC, where he led the development of an electronic procurement suite that helps providers increase purchasing contract compliance and ensure price accuracy. Anderson was also responsible for building a supply chain exchange that processed $40 billion in purchase order volume. Most recently, he was information technology & services chief information officer for the Hospital Corporation of America’s supply chain division, and CIO at HealthTrust.

Anderson says he looks forward to helping Premier members align supply chain and clinical practices. Premier says it houses patient data on 25 percent of U.S. community hospital discharges, evidence-based best practices from approximately 2.5 million daily transactions, and approximately $40 billion worth of annual purchasing data. Nearly half of the nation’s community hospitals and 100,000 alternate sites have access to the PremierConnect™ integrated technology and social networking platform, allowing them to interact and share Premier data, as well as best practices with providers nationwide.

Traditionally, supply chain professionals have been interested primarily in making sure that correct products get to the right place at the right time, says Anderson. That’s still important. “But they will have to look holistically at not only getting product to the right place at the right time, but also at the performance of that product.” Supply chain teams will be held accountable for how supply chain spend is being leveraged to support clinical service lines. “The question is, ‘Are you driving patient outcomes and readmission rates?’ ‘Are you leveraging high-quality care?’ ‘And are you doing so across the continuum?’”

Premier has a variety of offerings to help, says Anderson, including the QUEST® and ASCEND collaboratives. The alliance’s PhysicianFocus™ Hospital and PhysicianFocus™ Ambulatory offerings allow hospitals and physicians to benchmark their performance against that of their peers. And PremierConnect creates opportunities for people of different disciplines to get together and communicate.
“We are in an amazing position, with the purchase volume we have, to tie our volume together with our safety and quality tools,” says Anderson, referring to Premier. His mission, he believes, is twofold: 1) to make sure those tools are robust and provide as much insight as possible, and 2) to look at the quality metrics from QUEST and tie them together with products. “If you can link product to quality – and we have the database to do that – you can empower the supply chain.”

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