Today’s hospital supply chain leader: More than a just a manager of materials


Rebecca Hellmann

Vice President of Marketing, Hospital Solutions & Global Supply Chain

Editor’s note: October 2-8, 2016 is National Healthcare Supply Chain Week, sponsored by the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM). It’s a week dedicated to celebrating healthcare supply chain professionals for their outstanding contributions to healthcare and the overall success of the supply chain. Cardinal Health is proud to join AHRMM in taking this important opportunity to recognize the integral role supply chain professionals throughout the healthcare field play and applaud their shared commitment to maintaining a safe, effective and efficient healthcare supply chain. As part of this week, we specifically honor hospital supply chain leaders for the role they play in delivering high-quality patient care.

Hospital supply chain leaders. Anyone who truly understands the role they play in today’s complex hospitals and health systems will tell you they deliver much more than materials. They deliver hope, every day. Hope that most of us, as professionals, care-givers and those of us being cared for, take for granted.

Each and every one of our nation’s hospital supply chain leaders collaborates with hundreds of suppliers and manufacturers to ensure that thousands of healthcare products – from bandages to pacemakers – are available in a moment’s notice, right when and where clinicians need them – every single hour of every single day. They do this in the fast-paced, high-pressure hospital environment, but also during extraordinarily challenging times, when the stakes are even higher – like healthcare pandemics, and natural disasters.

Why do they do it? Because they know patients’ lives literally depend on it.

The more intriguing question, though, is how, exactly, do they do it all? In an industry that demands perfection and constant improvement, the reality is that hospital supply chain leaders wear many hats. They draw on deep expertise across multiple disciplines in a ceaseless effort to support improved care quality while simultaneously keeping an eye on costs.

Those of us who have the privilege of working directly with hospital supply chain leaders know the truth…that they are much more than simply managers of materials. They play many roles for the hospitals and health networks they serve. Today’s hospital supply chain leaders are multiple professions, all rolled into one.

Profile of a Supply Chain Leader

They act as conductors – synchronizing the fine-tuned delivery of life-saving healthcare products, across an ever-broadening continuum of care. They are like safety officers, protecting the quality, efficacy and safety of thousands of medical supplies within complex networks. They serve as coaches, inspiring teamwork and collaboration among manufacturers, their teams and clinicians. They execute new plays and keep the team focused on a singular, shared goal: supporting improved patient outcomes while reducing the total cost of care.

Today’s hospital supply chain leaders are like architects, crafting blueprints for the next generation of healthcare value streams, ensuring all parts work together seamlessly and flawlessly in a way that drives productivity and efficiency. They’re like scientists, inventing new ways to lead change and advance healthcare, developing innovative solutions to new challenges posed by the ever-evolving healthcare landscape.

As our world grows more connected and as the Internet of Things changes the way we live and work, hospital supply chain leaders must also be analytics experts – leveraging best-in-class technology tools to mine data and transform it into actionable insights that can improve the way healthcare is delivered.

During a time when hospitals and health networks are continually asked to do more with less, today’s hospital supply chain leaders play the role of financial advisor, partnering with fellow hospital leaders to strengthen the bottom line.

In a world where leadership and courage are needed to navigate the constant ebb and flow of change in healthcare, they are captains, boldly steering their teams into uncharted territories, with confidence and unwavering stability.

Armed with the understanding that revolution within the healthcare industry is just in its infancy, they approach each challenge with the endurance of a marathon runner, knowing that because the healthcare supply chain can never stop evolving, neither can they.

And perhaps most importantly, they are advocates, promoting innovation, efficiency and regulatory compliance across large health care organizations, and always, above all else, serving as a champion for the patient.

In honor of National Healthcare Supply Chain Week, we thank today’s hospital supply chain leaders for the many hats they wear…for the important roles they play…and for the countless contributions they make, every day, toward building a stronger, better, more secure, safer, more effective and efficient healthcare system for tomorrow. It is our privilege to work with you.