Supply-chain professionals have no shortage of potential catastrophes to consider when making purchasing and materials-management decisions. That, at least, is the impression left with this reporter after attending the 2008 Association for Healthcare Resource and Materials Management, or AHRMM, conference last week in San Antonio.
Tracking down recalled devices; ensuring order efficiency; selecting the best hand sanitizers and antibiotics to battle healthcare-acquired infections; and aligning budget goals with their hospitals commitment to purchase more expensive, eco-friendly products are just a few of the responsibilities hospital supply-chain managers address. And yet, as evidenced by the 2008 National Healthcare Executive Survey on Supply Chain Management conducted by AHRMM and healthcare products distributor Owens & Minor, some supply-chain managers feel like the Rodney Dangerfields of healthcare: They get no respect.
The survey overview was part of a host of educational and informational sessions that took place during the annual AHRMM conference and exhibition. Two hundred and fifty respondents answered the questionnaire: 30% were chief executives and 70% were supply-chain managers. The results show that supply-chain managers tend to view their work and potential ability to control hospitals overall costs in a more positive and powerful light than do their CEO bosses. But supply-chain managers also see a lack of cooperation from clinical staff and administrators as a bigger roadblock to controlling those costs than do C-suite executives.
Among some of the more significant findings was that supply-chain managers identified physician cooperation with product selection as the factor having the biggest impact on supply expenses. Chief executives attributed much less power to that factor, however, ranking it the fifth biggest influence on costs. Materials managers and C-suite execs also have different views on how important supply-chain expense reduction is to improving a hospitals overall financial performance. Chief executives ranked it fourth on a list of factors while supply-chain managers ranked it No. 3. Chief executives also were less inclined than materials managers to see improvement in their hospitals supply-chain leadership over the past two years. Sixty-nine percent of C-suite execs said materials management leadership was better or much better where 79% of supply-chain managers saw improvement. Supply-chain executives were also more inclined to believe their hospitals possessed adequate metrics for measuring supply-chain performance than C-suite executives.
While it may come as little surprise that materials managers and C-suite execs view supply-chain issues from somewhat different vantage points, the survey highlights some specific viewpoint disparities that hospitals would do well to reconcile, or at the very least become aware of, according to Jamie Kowalski, managing director of business development for Owens & Minor. Supply-chain managers and C-suite executives have inconsistent views of supply-chain definitions, impact on hospital performance and accountability, he said.
Reporter Shawn Rhea, based in New York, covers international healthcare, among other issues. She can be reached at [email protected]
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