UChicago Medicine celebrates supply chain career development, progress

July 24, 2023

Who wouldn’t want to join an award-winning supply chain team at a major urban academic medical center if they knew about all of the available opportunities for education and training, learning and development, engagement, empowerment, and even advancement? 

UChicago Medicine certainly satisfies all of these expectations with active processes and programs in place. 

In fact, the healthcare organization starts with an Employee Engagement Committee that comprises 12 staff members from Sourcing, Business Process and Operations that meets bi-weekly to develop activities, training sessions and processes that promote involvement and satisfaction, according to Eric Tritch, vice president, Supply Chain & Support Services. 

“Employee Engagement is an organizational priority at UCM, and we know in supply chain that our team members are what make us successful,” Tritch told Healthcare Purchasing News. “We used to focus on employee engagement in each of the sub-teams and departments, but realized we had an opportunity to bring teams together and to collaborate to recognize each other. Nas [Atanas] Ilchev and I, along with my predecessor Jon Stegner [who retired in 2011], originally conceived it focused primarily around front-line staff, but it has grown to focus on all team members. It also is a way for emerging leaders to shine by taking on stretch assignments to be either an engagement committee co-chair or the overall team leader. They help plan and lead our department-wide engagement efforts, keeping a consistent focus around engagement and communication with our teams.” 

Employee Engagement consists of three subcommittees. They are: 

•       Learning and Development, which focuses on identifying in-house opportunities for professional development and connecting staff to the identified resources.

•        Recognition, which has developed a formalized process for recognizing contributions by staff members. Any employee can nominate their peers for recognition, and awards are given out at the Quarterly All-Employee Meeting.

•        Safety, which is responsible for providing safety training and reinforcing UCM Safety initiatives, such as Code Silver, Ergonomics, and Environmental Awareness. 

Interweaving the accomplishments of these subcommittees into routine daily operations, such as contracting and value analysis among others, demonstrates the essentialness and importance that Supply Chain places on the work, according to Ian O’Malley, director, Strategic Sourcing Clinical. 

“As part of Value Analysis, we understand the devices we are evaluating impact stakeholders on a number of levels at our organization and beyond,” O’Malley noted. “Device safety is an important component of any Value Analysis review, and our teams work to include this metric as part of any trial we begin. Post-implementation, our Quality team keeps track of safety events to ensure we are not seeing any concerning events tied to new devices we have implemented.  An often, but not discussed, element of device evaluation is the ergonomics of the user – our clinicians. Our teams work very closely with our clinicians on trials and work to get the product in the hands of as many users as we can to ensure the trial has the largest sample size we can reasonably achieve. If a device places undue stress on the user, such as fatigue due to poor design, complexity in use or unnecessary steps adding frustration, our teams factor that into the ultimate decision to engage in a conversion. 

“The teams always have an eye towards Environmental Awareness and waste reduction when we look at new devices or utilization opportunities, too,” he continued. “We are always looking to minimize our waste footprint through reprocessing programs and high-compliant collections, but also working to collaborate with device manufacturers in contracting for those that produce devices that can be reprocessed or collected for recycling programs. Our utilization projects tied to waste reduction are reported out at the Value Analysis meetings. Some of these are surgical pack audits, 'No Ask, No Open' projects to reduce opening products in the OR that aren't needed, and surgical cost-per-case reviews with surgeons to validate what we show as being used is accurate and that they are aware of what is being attributed to their case costs.” 

Employee Engagement’s Learning & Development subcommittee has developed career paths for each role, mapping the key skills that need to be achieved to advance through the Supply Chain organization, according to Michelle Kosovec, senior manager, Supply Chain Process Transformation. 

“We’ve formalized eight career paths that include all entry-level through manager roles,” Kosovec noted. “As the career paths were developed, they created important alignment in the senior leadership team. After they were created, they were made available to all teams and have provided a foundation for advancement conversations, which are critical for the development and retention of employees. By having these documents available to all teams, it enables transparent communication around expectations about opportunities available at each role.”