For physicians and clinicians focused on caring for pediatric patients, the launch of a new pediatric device or technology is often cause for celebration. The reason is because most manufacturers focus their product development efforts on the adult patient population, leaving a gap in medical devices, instruments, supplies and drugs/medications that are specially designed for infants and younger patients. To help address the range of challenges with pediatric-specific products, Vizient has taken several steps to improve visibility and access for these unique products within its Preferred Pediatric Program.

“The Vizient Preferred Pediatric Program brings a heightened awareness to our industry-leading product portfolio, and it also reflects our passion to work with members to improve the care delivered to pediatric patients,” said Michael Ainsworth, vice president, member business ventures for Vizient. “The foundational components of the program are ease of product access, member feedback and education.”

Delivering goods to the marketplace

For the last several years, the Preferred Pediatrics Program team has been encouraging suppliers to place more pediatric products into their contracts with Vizient. From there, the team works like detectives, sifting through volumes of Vizient contracts to identify products that specifically serve the infant and adolescent population. Once found, they flag those pediatric-centric items in the Vizient catalog so they are searchable for materials managers. This diligence in flagging pediatric product offerings has enabled the category to continue to expand, with more than 45,000 products currently featured in the catalog.

“Historically, pediatric products were not readily available in the marketplace, so smaller, adult medical products were being retrofitted by care providers to treat children. The constant modification of adult products in pediatric care settings demonstrated a clear need for some industry changes,” said Brigitte Chorey, senior director, sourcing and program management at Vizient.

She noted that Vizient works with the manufacturers to identify their pediatric-specific products and makes sure they are included in RFPs. Vizient also continually recruits new suppliers into the program.

Environmentally preferred (EP) products – such as those designated as fragrance and paraben free – are also featured within the pediatric portfolio. In collaboration with the Vizient Environmentally Preferred Sourcing team, a pediatric product-specific EP scorecard has been developed, and more products with EP attributes are being added to the catalog.

Discipline-specific councils provide valuable feedback

Member input also plays a pivotal role in the competitive contracting process. Vizient advisory councils offer members the opportunity to help define programmatic direction at a time when their feedback is most vital. This was evident in 2015 when reviewing contracts for Pampers® and Huggies®. The Vizient Pediatric Council noted the lack of a diaper option for extremely low birth weight babies; those weighing around two pounds or less.

Working closely with both Pampers and Huggies, council members successfully influenced the development of new diapers designed to minimize disruption to help with sleep, positioning and medical care for premature infants. Vizient added these new diapers to contracts for members at a comparable price to their other preemie diapers.

“This was a perfect example of how the council’s knowledge and passion for an initiative helped fill a gap in product,” said Chorey.

Keeping members connected through education 

In addition to value and focus, the Preferred Pediatric Program also integrates communication and education into its strategy, leveraging Vizient supplier relationships to provide pediatric educational assets to members. Additionally, the team publishes Pediatric Technology Watch, a synopsis of market trends and product overviews of new devices and technologies.

This year, the program launched the first Pediatric Technology Watch report, “Emerging Pediatric Technologies.” The report provides members insight into new and innovative technologies within pediatric health care. Some of the products that have come down the pipeline for treating young patients include computerized “smart” products like pediatric blood glucose controls, spinal rods and spinal implants.

“We regularly evaluate topics for the overall educational curriculum to help ensure we provide the most relevant content. For example, we’ll look at whether it’s flu season or summertime when kids have bike accidents and fractures—and then we try to tailor some of our communications and education to address those issues,” Ainsworth said.

The Vizient Preferred Pediatric Program is at the forefront of heightening awareness on pediatric health care and making products suited for children readily available to health care professionals. The program will continue to give members insight into the advances that are being made in pediatric medical care and what products are out there to treat the infant and juvenile population.

Interested in learning more? Explore how the Vizient Preferred Pediatric Program can support your pediatric caregivers with high-quality products and help them deliver cost-effective care for your youngest patients. 

Published: November 29, 2018