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Top 4 healthcare sourcing questions, answered

Posted Apr 14 2014 10:00am

As a 30+ year practicing surgical services nurse, and now a clinical product planner, I’ve seen both sides of the healthcare sourcing process. I’ve often been asked why it’s important for clinicians to be involved in the sourcing process, so I decided to take a moment and write my answers down.

The sourcing process in healthcare is quite strategic; much more than just buying products. Success depends on the right type of clinician involvement and the right high-caliber talent within the sourcing group. Clinician expertise in the sourcing process can help rein in spending in ways that don’t compromise patient care. And it can open the door to greater clinical collaboration, allowing hospitals to implement other operational improvements.

What does it mean to have clinicians or subject matter experts (SMEs) integrated in the sourcing process?

To me, it means you should sleep better at night. As a 30+ year hospital practicing surgical services nurse, I view the sourcing process as an extension of that practice. When I look at a product’s attributes, I know that these products will be used on many patients across the country. I look at these products as if I was back in the clinical setting, in scrubs, using them on a patient under my care.

How does having a clinician or SME integrated in the sourcing process help navigate roadblocks?

Clinicians or SMEs can take the data and connect it to outcomes during sourcing events. The use of this clinical lens allows us to evaluate clinical examples in addition to looking at products, pricing and contracts. The involvement of clinicians or SMEs brings relevance and knowledge from experience to the process.

In my early days in sourcing, a supplier was presenting their product line to our team during a product review. As clinicians, we’re able to scrutinize the data and confirm whether or not a product has clinical efficacy.

How does having a clinician or SME integrated in the sourcing process help build trust?

Clinicians or SMEs in the sourcing process is a powerful strategy for optimizing the trust in the results. They bring credibility to the sourcing process because of their knowledge and experience. I’ve heard Premier members say that if the clinician had given their approval of the products, they trust that information and recommendation. Any time that can be saved by the bedside clinician will be time well served for their patient population.

How does having a clinician or SME integrated in the sourcing process help build accountability and positive bottom line results?

Change and standardization are needed in the operations of a hospital, especially in a patient care area. Having someone involved in the process that has direct hospital operational experience, who can work to identify savings in their everyday work and continue their drive of quality outcomes using their clinical knowledge is “priceless.”

A clinician who understands the purchase and practice patterns of the hospital also knows the questions to ask and the pain points to get covered in a contract. All of these advantages lead to a sourcing process that is embedded with clinician, operational and evidence-based wisdom.

Do you have any questions about the sourcing process? Let me know in the comments below and I’d be happy to answer them.

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