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January 26, 2023

Why Physician Leadership is Critical in the Supply Chain

Dr. Jimmy Chung is chief medical officer at Advantus Health Partners, a supply chain subsidiary of Bon Secours Mercy Health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization’s physician leaders positively impacted supply chain operations. Executives recognized the need for defined permanent supply chain physician leadership roles.

A physician supply chain leader acts as a medical director. Physicians in these roles must have business savvy, as well as other important qualities, said Dr. Chung. “We look for open-minded physicians who embrace the idea of teamwork. Those who are engaged and dynamic. They must be willing to work with peers to improve health care quality and value,” he said. For Advantus, physicians work together in defined groups with particular goals.

Clinical Transformation Committees

Dr. Chung oversees clinical transformation committees with broad organizational representation. “These committees include clinicians and operational leaders from our hospitals who convene to make decisions at the system or ministry level. The committees standardize processes and reduce unnecessary variation to create efficiency. This creates the best value for our patients,” he said.

Physician Resource Optimization Teams

Advantus also supports physician resource optimization (PRO) teams, which are led by the Bon Secours Mercy Health clinical operations. These ad hoc teams address ways to eliminate waste associated with PPI. A large organization can spend tens of millions of dollars on high-priced products such as orthopedic implants. “Each hospital and surgeon likes to do things their way,” noted Dr. Chung. “We could have 30 or 40 different contracts with different vendors. The PRO teams work to eliminate the waste, unnecessary variation, and potential safety issues to promote clinical efficacy.”

Training is essential to success

For successful clinical integration, cross-disciplinary training is a critical first step for both physician and supply chain leaders. Physicians most likely need information on supply chain principles, starting with the value analysis concepts that drive supply chain decisions. They may initially find it difficult to look beyond the impact of their own practice or long-term specialty. Familiarity with finance and supply chain logistics will help them develop a broader perspective on their new role.

At the same time, existing supply chain leaders need insight into the clinician’s process and preferences regarding supply selection. Better understanding from both sides encourages decision-making that supports everyone’s goals.

Clinical efficacy improves perceived value

Significant changes in the health care industry, including the fallout from the pandemic, have motivated patients to take a closer look at the value of care they receive.

It’s time to take a serious look at care delivery to increase the value of the patient experience, according to Dr. Chung. “In reality, the health care we provide is consumed by patients and the public. Both the ill and healthy. They expect a certain amount of customer service and experience in what they receive from us. We need to focus on the value of that experience: reliability, high quality and cost efficiency,” he said.

Put patients at the center

Bringing a clinical perspective to the supply chain enables the organization to keep patients at the center of its focus, decisions and goals. Physician leaders in the supply chain can support safer, higher quality and more reliable health care to patients.

Dr. Chung recommends three top initiatives to increase value for patients.

  • Create a leadership structure with a commitment to putting patients and community health at the center. Consider the organization’s effect on the environment and address disparities in social determinants of health.
  • Invest in data analytics and measure components of the patient experience. Include care quality and patient outcomes as well as patient experience, expectations and total cost of care.
  • Engage patients using interactive tools and processes that go beyond patient portal capability. Make it as easy as possible for them to prepare for an upcoming surgery and get needed medications or products at home. Use remote patient monitoring (RPM) to help them manage chronic illness at home when appropriate.

With the proper approach, physician leadership in the supply chain helps achieve cost reduction goals, higher quality and better patient outcomes. Learn more about how you can benefit from the Advantus Health Partners clinical transformation solution.

Jimmy Chung, MD, MBA, FACS

As chief medical officer for Advantus Health Partners, Dr. Chung leads clinical transformation efforts overseeing physician engagement, product implementation, clinical process design and integration. Serving as a physician executive and health care consultant with over 20 years of experience, he is dedicated to innovative and effective methods of delivering high-value, safe, patient-centered health care in a value-based environment.

Sources:

1 https://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/hospitals-could-save-about-10-million-year-supply-chain-study-finds. September 15, 2017.

2 https://www.definitivehc.com/blog/reigning-in-hospital-supply-costs-and-physician-preference-item-spending. Accessed December 7, 2022.

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