OC Reilly Blog: Building Bridges 

By Scott Satkoske, OC Reilly Inc.


(June 6, 2016)—Physicians want the best medical equipment for their patients, naturally. It’s what they became physicians to provide – the finest care to relieve suffering. Purchasing officers want quality care, as well, but at a cost that also represents value. Can these two sometimes competing, sometimes complementary viewpoints find a workable middle ground?

The answer is yes, as described in an article in the May/June 2016 issue of “Supply Chain Strategies & Solutions,” published by the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management*, that describes how HealthTrust, a Tennessee-based system, found a way to successfully bridge the gap. 

“Physician advisors work closely with HealthTrust Physician Services to interpret clinical evidence supporting produce use – and point out where it is lacking or biased – as well as offer insights on clinically important product design features and market pressures that also factor into contracting decisions…They are responsible for articulating to supply-chain professionals and fellow practitioners at HealthTrust member facilities the research-based rationale for recommended use (or non-use) of a particular service or procedure,” the article reads.

Offering a case-in-point, the story continues, “Cardiology physician advisors were asked to review available clinical trial data on two newly FDA-approved, drug-eluting stents and determine if the new technology provided ‘significant clinical benefits’ relative to an existing and lower-priced, on-contract product.

“They concluded that while the products held promise based on their technology, the current data failed to demonstrate better outcomes or higher value to patients. HealthTrust members thus elected to stand firm in not purchasing the new stents, and absorbing a cost increase, until HealthTrust could negotiate more favorable pricing on their behalf or new data was available.”

The best medical equipment at the most reasonable cost – that is how forward-thinking healthcare systems define value in this new world. The two perspectives, those of physicians and those of supply-chain managers, can co-exist peacefully, happily, and cost-effectively.

The secret comes in actively evaluating the medical equipment options available, for maximum patient benefit at a commensurate cost value. The secret comes in building internal bridges of communication and trust.

* http://www.ahrmm.org/resources/publications/pdfs/healthtrust-building-bridges-mayjune-2016.pdf