Taking stock of doc blocs

Sept. 28, 2021

NASHVILLE – Supply Chain professionals from around the nation gathered here in late August for AHRMM’s annual conference to network and to discuss, learn about and try to solve some of the top industry challenges.

Leading the ticker was the pandemic’s impact on the supply chain but figuring rather prominently below the radar was a decades-old supply chain topic: Working with physicians and surgeons. The latest impressions about physician involvement in the supply chain – from physicians themselves – signal serious fissures in the fortress of perceived stereotypical physician attitudes and reactions.

Those stereotypes include: Physicians allegedly always get what they want, and if they don’t (because supply chain takes away their favorite stuff to save pennies on the dollar) they stampede the C-suite, complain to the CEO about all the business they bring and threaten to take it elsewhere. Physicians claim they either learned about their preferred product in medical school, favor the sales rep or have a vested interest in the sales growth and success of the product.

Meanwhile, supply chain pros have heard seemingly endless refrains of “show docs the data” and everything will be all right because they’ll toe the line.

But here at AHRMM, several presentations shined new light on a reforming reality. Two doctors who had participated in an enterprise-wide value analysis project demonstrated a surprisingly deep empathy for and understanding of expense management.

One of their pet peeves? Being “voluntold” about changing products without a thorough analysis of the impact on procedural integrity and patient outcomes. Together with Supply Chain, they conceived a comprehensive measurement process to evaluate suppliers and purchasing patterns. From that effort the clinical crew reached a consensus that saved their organization millions of dollars.

During another physician-led presentation, one of the speakers wanted to shatter the myth that docs don’t like change.

“It’s not that we don’t like change,” he said, “it’s that we don’t like to be told to change.” And specifically, to be told without accurate, irrefutable, verifiable evidence that supply chain can and should be providing because physicians really seek and want it. Physicians are on board about clinical integration and resource stewardship, he added, so long as they actively participate in the process as equal players and share in both the risks and rewards.

Sounds like good business. Now to make it standard operating procedure.

About the Author

Rick Dana Barlow | Senior Editor

Rick Dana Barlow is Senior Editor for Healthcare Purchasing News, an Endeavor Business Media publication. He can be reached at [email protected].