If you’ve ever had a problem with your smart phone or other technical device, you have probably ended up engaging with an online forum of problem solvers. These experts offer insights, tips and other information that, in most cases, help you quickly fix your issue.

That concept of informal, online peer-to-peer collaboration is what the new Vizient Expert Panels are all about. The panels, which match the categories of the 26 Vizient contracting and advisory councils within sourcing, offer any member with interest and expertise the opportunity to easily engage with peers in a moderated forum.

“Members can choose the topic(s) best suited to their specialty or area of interest, and it’s a simple process to get involved. In the panels, they can ask and answer questions to solve problems, share documents and photos, send private messages and more,” said Christi Guess, senior director of member input and clinical solutions for Vizient. 

An additional feature for panel members is the opportunity to participate in pre-bid and pre-RFP surveys for certain products that are scheduled to be reviewed by the corresponding contracting council. In those instances, the pre-bid survey would include a range of questions designed to inform the business requirements or clinical requirements for a bid. In other instances, the survey would be used to gather more data on clinical preference, and it could carry up to a 25 percent weight in an actual bid scorecard for the contracting council.

“Now there’s a place for peers in specific clinical areas to network with one another, and have a material voice in the sourcing process outside of serving on one of the formal councils. And, for those currently serving on a council, once their term ends, the expert panel gives them a place to continue to network and maintain connections with their peers. It is a win-win for the member and for Vizient,” said Guess.

Expert panels versus councils – determining which option is right for you

The contracting and advisory councils, and the new expert panels, offer members defined ways to participate in the sourcing decisions that determine the Vizient contract portfolio. “Member participation isn’t just important, it is vital. We need very robust programs for member input to drive our contracting decisions and strategies, because Vizient facilitates a rigorous contracting process which is based on member-led decision-making,” Guess said.

The specific purpose of the council program is to provide member input at key milestones of the bid process, from beginning to end. Our 17 discipline-specific contracting councils align with segments of the GPO contract portfolio by category type. Their work includes assessment of market conditions, establishing bid criteria and assisting with development of RFP questions, establishing the relative weights of the bid criteria, scoring bids and, in the end, validating the award structure for each bid. All of this work is done in a way that reflects the priorities and needs of the diverse Vizient membership. 

The nine advisory councils are established according to specialized areas of expertise or special areas of interest like ambulatory surgery, oncology pharmacy and supplier diversity. The advisory councils function as advisers for the contracting councils and provide direct feedback to Vizient staff about their particular concerns and needs. Their feedback informs how the RFP is designed. They also offer unique market insights and supplier preference information.

The membership for the contracting and advisory councils is selected to reflect the diversity in the Vizient membership. Councils have a maximum of 18 members who serve 3-year terms. Interested candidates are asked to complete a detailed application, provide a resume or thorough LinkedIn profile and complete a conflict-of-interest questionnaire, as well as a nondisclosure agreement. The application process opens in August, selections are finalized in October and new members take their seats on January 1.

The expert panels, which match the contracting and advisory councils categories, have unlimited membership, involve no term limits or compliance documents and panelists may be added at any time. Each panel is self-contained and a member may participate in more than one panel, if qualified. The forums are moderated by Vizient subject matter experts who facilitate conversation, networking and information sharing by panel members.

“We always have far more applicants than we can place on councils,” said Guess. “Those who are not selected will be automatically added to the appropriate expert panel and if they don’t want to participate, they can unsubscribe with a single click.”

“Out of the many benefits Vizient offers, ‘networking with their peers’ is one of the benefit members say they value most. We are pleased to offer a new forum to bring professionals together for that key purpose, as well as to help further enrich member input for the Vizient contracting process,” said Guess.

For more information on councils and panels, click here.

Published: July 17, 2018