March 3

Healthcare Supply Chain Strategic Planning

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Strategic planning hasn’t been a hot topic lately in healthcare supply chain management circles, yet it can be the primary key to extending your influence in your healthcare organization. This is especially so in areas that aren’t now under your operational responsibilities. It comes down to building a case for change.

The reason a strategic plan is so powerful is that you are asking your management to approve your supply chain vision over the next few years. This enables your management to see the big picture, as opposed to requesting changes in your supply chain operations on a piecemeal basis that might be too ambiguous to gain traction.

Extending Your Influence with a Strategic Healthcare Supply Chain Plan

There is nothing better than knowing you have the approval and backing of your senior management to make change happen in your sphere of influence. For instance, if you want to attack your supply utilization in your healthcare organization this would be in your strategic plan, along with the justification (i.e., projected savings, quality, and safety improvements, etc.) for doing so.

The key to the success of your strategic plan is telling a before and after story. By this we mean, how things are now vs. what they could be under your direction. You could decide to tell a story about managing purchased services at your hospital. Tell how they are decentralized now and how they are costing your hospital hundreds of thousands of dollars unnecessarily in higher fees, no standardization, no policies and procedures, and no oversight on these millions of dollars of contracts.

The one thing you can’t forget with your strategic plan is to include expenses to implement and the breakeven point on every one of your initiatives. This will give your management the full picture of what they are approving. For example, if you were to propose a centralized purchased service unit in your supply chain department, you would need a contract administrator (full or part time), and new software to manage contracts, etc. My guess is that the breakeven point would be three months before your savings surpass your overhead to manage this new service. When your management sees that all they are really approving is a three-month investment of about $35,000, they will be more amenable to approving your initiative.

Tell a Story that Management Can Support

Get the gist of what a strategic plan is all about? It’s about selling your management on the cost/benefits of your operational plans for today, tomorrow, and the future, but with a twist; you are presenting all of your ideas, observations, and data all at one time. This way you are telling a story with a beginning, middle, and end that your management can more easily buy into and support over the next few years.

The alternative to writing, presenting, and selling your strategic planning vision to your hospital management is to just let things happen to you, which is never a good place to be in this unstable healthcare marketplace we are living and working in today.

Therefore, be proactive, progressive, and professional by developing and then updating your strategic healthcare supply chain plan each and every year. One last thing. By doing so, it will change the way you are perceived by your management forevermore!


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