Advancing the Healthcare Supply Chain: Are There Really Any Secrets to Success?

Excerpts from a discussion with Intalere Chief Commercial Officer Steve Kiewiet

When it comes to advancing the strategic importance of the healthcare supply chain, what are some of the secrets to success? There’s no one answer and nobody has the playbook. But it can be extremely successful as evidenced by many healthcare organizations across the United States, including Intalere’s owner, Intermountain Healthcare. They’re very recognizable health systems that rival any major, highly strategic supply chain in any industry and the investments that they’ve made.

They all have a common theme in that they invested in supply chain and in those core competencies around putting teams together that have a specialty in analytics programs, strategic planning, resource management and inventory management. They’ve also bought the tools necessary to pull the data in from these disparate sources and make real information out of it. They’ve partnered with their IT organizations or hired the right partners to come in to bring those competencies into their organizations.

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The common theme is investment. It’s easier in a large health system where you’ve got the money to make those investments. Where it is more difficult is smaller hospitals and non-acute facilities, places where making payroll and paying the bills is really important and you don’t have the money to make those kinds of investments. But for those that have done it, they’ve made a conscious, intentional decision as an organization to make the investment in a strategic supply chain as a core part of their business.

How can smaller facilities that may not have the resources begin down the path toward being more strategic about supply chain?

Get involved in the healthcare supply chain industry and associations, like local and national chapters of the Association for Healthcare Resources and Materials Management (AHRMM). Through connections like these, you can begin to make significant peer connections. You can learn from what others have done so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and maybe you can take some of their best practices and put them into place in your organization.

Start partnerships. Work with different groups that have the needed resources and skills to come in and help you, whether its consultants or educators from local colleges or universities. You don’t necessarily have to hire the talent, but you could rent the talent, so to speak.

Become a student of supply chain. The one thing that is typically very affordable is education and investing in learning. Regardless of your size and the amount of financial resources you have, you can apply the principles and tenants of good strategic supply chain management to help drive value for your organization and capture that value. Then make sure you share it with everybody in your organization to show that even small investments bring value. Use that as a momentum to gain the opportunity for more investment to drive even more value.

Steve Kiewiet is a nationally-recognized leader and innovator in healthcare supply chain management, leadership development and operational efficiency, and was featured in The Journal of Healthcare Contracting as one of the “Top 10 People to Watch in Healthcare Contracting.”

Kiewiet was elected to the Association for Health Care Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM) Board in 2017 as a provider representative and will serve as AHRMM Board chair in 2021. AHRMM is the leading membership group for healthcare supply chain professionals.

We Can Help. Intalere provides resources that can assist in the area of supply chain, as well as many other areas of your healthcare facility. Review our Post-COVID Transformation Toolkit and reach out to see how we can help. Contact Customer Service at 877-711-5600 or or your Intalere representative.

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