Advancing the Healthcare Supply Chain: The Necessary Skill Set

Steve Kiewiet, Chief Commercial Officer for Intalere

Excerpts from a discussion with Intalere Chief Commercial Officer Steve Kiewiet

Throughout my career, I have been a passionate advocate about the C-level strategic value that supply chain leaders can bring to their organizations. In that vein, what are some of the strategic operational areas that supply chain professionals can spend a little bit more time on that go a little deeper than just transactional, tactical things to illustrate that organizational value?

Product life cycle management: If you look at some of the core disciplines of a supply chain, whether that’s a healthcare supply chain or a consumer goods supply chain, you look at product life cycle management. That’s a core competency in any supply chain organization. Healthcare can be a specific product, like a widget and what’s that life cycle of that widget before it gets replaced by a better widget. Or it’s a “product” around the capability to provide a service. For example, an analytics tool can be a product until somebody comes out with a better analytics tool. But the discipline required to manage that brings a tremendous value to the system and having professionals that know how to address that because the delivery of care is a product. We can help with the strategic planning organizations inside the healthcare system around their product of care delivery or specific procedures and bring product lifecycle management discipline to that.

Inventory management: The ability to manage your costs by managing your inventory and having the right amount of inventory, in the right location to be able to deliver the care that is in a strategic discipline is important.

Logistics, distribution and operations management and strategic planning: The healthcare supply chain, or all supply chains for that matter, are built around the ability to do forecasting and demand planning. That’s a strategic planning discipline and that component is a requirement, especially for someone who wants to build a career in supply chain from entry level to leader in any industry.

Risk management: The ability to manage how much of something I should have, or when should I contract with someone or not contract with someone? Is that supplier going to be credible and capable and dependable? The supplier relationship management skill and who owns the burden if something goes right or wrong is important. A lot of supply chains are responsible for being ready for disaster management so disaster planning and resource planning for extreme circumstances of events is part of that core competency.

Core procurement planning and operations: General business 101, including managing costs and resources, people and programs/projects. If you think about project management and program management, a lot of those functions are very similar to supply chain management and very complementary to each other. And a lot of supply chain organizations work hand in hand with, or even manage, the project management offices for most organizations.

Finally, true strategic supply chain management is labor intensive, doing some of that work takes investment to hire those capabilities and put those tools in places. And when you’re competing with more nurses or more surgeons or more people who can do product life cycle management, we generally default, of course, to care.

Until we can find ways to balance out those investments so that we have the right amount of people delivering care and then the right amount of people delivering the other services that support that care, it’s hard. Especially in an industry that isn’t used to that discipline, to quantify the value of that investment versus quantifying how many people are needed to cut purchase orders, deliver products and negotiate better pricing. Putting the value on some of those leadership skills and other administrative strategic skills remains difficult.

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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