We are all looking for better ways to ratchet down our hospital’s supply chain expenses, but we often miss the obvious because we aren’t looking at the big picture. You can call this “playing small ball” instead of hitting big league singles, doubles, and home runs. Here are three ways to keep your eye on the ball:
1. Don’t fuss with the small stuff: We have observed supply chain professionals spending an inordinate amount of time to save a few thousand dollars on suture trays, while ignoring hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings (e.g., stents, oxisensors, or endomechanicals) in their supply spend. When asked why they are doing this, they tell us that these “small ball” savings are in their comfort zone; easy to achieve, less risky, and they are good at it!
While these “small ball” savings add up over time, they will never take the place of hundred-thousand-dollar hits that will truly have a positive effect on your healthcare organization’s bottom line. So don’t fuss with the small stuff when you have millions of dollars of savings just waiting to be realized at your healthcare organization.
2. Don’t reinvent the wheel: Often times we see healthcare value analysis practitioners searching for weeks to uncover breakthrough savings on commodity groups that have an annual spend of under $25,000. Even if these individuals can save 10% on these commodities, it’s not worth their time and effort to save $2,500.
The best way to address these low-volume products, services, and technologies is not to reinvent the wheel, but to obtain the best GPO pricing available on the suitable product, service, or technology, and then forget about them. Your time is too valuable to get caught up in the time-consuming process of being best in class for commodities that have no effect whatsoever on your healthcare organization’s bottom line.
3. Don’t fall in love with trivia: It could take you months to locate that special oblong, sideways, thumbed, screwed stopcock that was requested by your anesthesia department, or you could turn this job over to one of your suppliers who will locate it within a few days. This was my tactic for years and it helped me to get rid of all those oddball requests that were eating into my limited time.
This should be your tactic too! Don’t get bogged down researching special requests, or as I like to call it “trivia”, when there are dozens of high value savings targets that you should be working on. Running down these oddities might be fun to do, but it will limit the time available to you for more important work.
It’s easy for us to get trapped in the “small ball” game, or things that we feel comfortable with, bring us gratification, and show some results. We must avoid this temptation at all costs if we are to play in the supply chain big leagues where no one wins the World Series by playing “small ball”. We must always have our eye on the big picture!
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