Forming strategic vendor relationships
More health systems are recognizing the benefits of identifying a single vendor partner that can help with tasks like standardization and employee education, versus tapping multiple vendors who only offer low prices.
"You can't just go with the best price and fragment all of your business and spend," said Ms. McRory. "You want to collaborate with a partner that can do a lot of different things for you and streamline your process."
Working with one large vendor helps health systems drive standardization and SKU reduction, limit group purchasing organization contract variation and offer consistent employee education across all care sites. This helps health systems ensure all facilities are following the same clinical and operational processes to maximize cost savings and improve organizational efficiencies.
When selecting a vendor to partner with, health systems should look for an organization that shares long-term financial risk, maintains a wide breadth of product lines, offers education teams for providers and, most importantly, understands the system's "big picture" according to Ms. McRory.
"Jefferson is in major growth mode," she said, noting that it will be a 17-hospital system within three years. "The right vendor will know where you are in terms of that strategy. They will get to know your organization so they can understand where you are going."
As a growing system undergoing many changes, Jefferson Health turned to Cardinal Health for assistance. The supplier not only helped standardize products across all of Jefferson's care sites, but also worked with the system to overcome staff member's resistance to standardization and change fatigue. As a result, the system was able to standardize eight major product lines from three vendors to one.
"That process created new efficiencies we didn't even think were possible," Ms. McRory said.