With the prevalence of non-acute care in today’s health care landscape, supply chain leaders are watching their scope of responsibilities substantially increase. Knowing that rapid change is an integral part of the industry today, many supply chain leaders must forge a new approach to non-acute supply chain management.

“Integrating non-acute facilities doesn’t happen by accident,” said Mitch Walters, vice president, Vizient non-acute. “An organization has to be purposeful to set out and solve the unique needs and challenges of the non-acute market. It’s not plug and play to repeat what you do today in the acute market; organizations must make the effort to understand their perspective and need as well as have a willingness to do things differently.”

When it comes to non-acute supply chain management, the level of sophistication varies widely from health system to health system. If the organization is very sophisticated, with a sound technology infrastructure, strategy and processes in place, a single missing piece – like not enough manpower – could be the only thing that requires adjustment.

On the other hand, if the organization is not as advanced in its resources, many pieces could be required to achieve best-in-class capabilities, such as developing a non-acute- specific strategy, implementing non-acute supply chain management technology, embedding an asset that runs the program, and potentially enlisting the help of outside expertise.

Regardless of where an organization sits on the continuum of non-acute supply chain capability, recognizing the four tenets of best-in-class non-acute supply chain management is critical to sustainable success.

A sustainable and successful non-acute supply chain management solution is grounded on the following tenets:

  • Non-acute supply chain expertise
  • Technology
  • Analytics
  • Service

Non-acute supply chain expertise
Health system supply chain leaders must invest in gaining an understanding of the unique needs and challenges of non-acute providers and the products used at those facilities. By combining that knowledge with best practices for systematic approaches and uniform processes, they can effectively integrate the non-acute locations into the health system’s supply chain.

To have a best-in-class non-acute supply chain, technology is critical. Often, supply ordering and management technology used for non-acute supply chain management is the same technology used in acute-care facilities. It provides a lot of horsepower, but is wildly expensive and cumbersome for the needs of non-acute. The best non-acute technology solutions are user friendly, generally less expensive to implement than an acute care solution, and easily integrate with an ERP system.

As the adage goes, what isn’t measured isn’t managed. Analytics provide the measurement capability necessary to control and improve a non-acute supply chain’s performance, right down to how effective an individual location is performing within the system. Analytics will identify critical pieces of information, such as if non-acute locations are purchasing on GPO contracts, purchasing products on a formulary or leveraging aggregation opportunities to maximize savings.

As a health system collects more pieces of data (e.g. pricing variations, total spend), its ability to make critical decisions and operate more predictably increases.

Having a well-defined strategy, the right technology and robust analytics are all vital pieces, but a system must approach service with the same level of commitment given on the acute side to realize meaningful progress and sustainable cost savings on the non-acute side. Services include item master creation and maintenance, rostering locations, contract research, denial management, LOP/LOC completion and a dedicated resource – an individual whose sole function is to manage the non-acute supply chain.

An organization should constantly adhere to the four tenets in order to launch and maintain a successful program. Organizations also prefer predictability as opposed to a state of constant discovery, so these tenets offer the stability that enables them to have a proactive approach to managing the supply chain.

“The best approach for a supply chain leader is to start with an understanding of the nuances of non-acute providers and then be adaptable in how their purchasing is integrated. We work with each member to develop a program that is highly customizable, fits their scenario and ownership structure, and addresses their culture and physician relationships,” said Walters, “We consult with stakeholders on both sides and figure out the pieces they need. It usually comes down to visibility of information, establishing consistent repeatable processes and ultimately constructing an execution plan.”

For more information on structuring and optimizing a non-acute program that best fits your organization’s needs, connect with the non-acute expert in your region by clicking here or emailing us at nonacute@vizientinc.com.


Published: January 26, 2017