Health System Supply Chain Execs May Be Unaware Of Clinical Integration Gaps

New research suggests that health system leaders may not be aware that clinical integration may not be proceeding as they expected. While their plans are likely to call for participation of clinicians in decision-making, in many cases, they aren’t invited to weigh in.

This conclusion comes from healthcare consulting firm Acurity and supply chain performance company Nexera, which recently conducted two surveys focused on hospital execs’ understanding of supply chain issues and their plans for clinical integration, cost-cutting and operational efficiency.

In responding to the survey, 66% of respondents said that they currently tie clinically integrated initiatives to their supply chain budget, but only 5% said clinical integration was their supply chain’s current priority. In effect, supply chain leaders are in a silo which they apparently don’t see as overlapping greatly with clinical practice.

When the execs were asked whether clinicians were involved in formal supply chain utilization and procurement decisions, leaders with diverging responsibilities responded differently. On the one hand, most senior and financial management executives said yes. On the other, the majority of clinical, operations and materials leaders said that clinicians weren’t involved. In other words, the divide between financial and top administrative leaders and other hands-on departments seems to be fairly wide.

The researchers behind the report argue that with clinical, operational and materials pros failing to involve clinicians in these decisions, it’s worth asking whether most health systems actually do have a unified cost-management strategy in place. They also suggest that if clinicians aren’t being involved in decision-making, hospital leaders may be doing a poor job of getting their ultimate goals out to the rank and file.

As things stand, there’s a disconnect between what hospital leaders want from their supply chain strategy and what’s actually going on, the survey suggests.

On the one hand, 73% of hospital administrators said they see the supply chain as tied to their cost-management strategy, and 53% of those respondents reported that their organization had performed a coordinated supply chain assessment in the last two years. About three-quarters of those who had done the assessment stated that it met their goals for cost-cutting and operations improvement.

At the same time, many of those same respondents who seemed to believe that their supply chain strategy was working named cost reduction as in need of major improvement. It seems that not everyone’s on the same page.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

1 Comment

  • This is an age old issue. A number of years ago, I had a conversation with The Advisory Board Company about this issue and moving Supply Chain forward and creating a Clinical Supply Model, similar to what has been done with Pharmacy and the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee. I have had a couple publications related to creating a Comparative Effectiveness Committee also, which would serve as an oversight committee, to address all treatments that have been developed. Dr. David Shulkin (past head of the VA) wrote an article on Transforming the P and T Committee and I wrote a Letter to the Editor in support of the move. It isn’t just about saving money and cost. In the truly integrated IDNs I network with that have their own health plans, they are doing more Outcomes Based Contracts, and coordinating preventative and treatment care better, to control over cost of care and outcomes/quality.

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