Broadening Our Perspectives

Robert W. Yokl, Sr. Vice President/COO, Strategic Value Analysis in Healthcare

This issue, I am writing about what I consider to be one of the most important aspects of the mindset of a value analysis, clinical resource, or utilization management professional. This, I believe, is what your perspective or viewpoint is.

Back in 2010, I gave a demonstration of our supply utilization dashboard to a large five-system IDN’s corporate purchasing staff. This was new technology to our marketplace at the time, and before the demo they had mentioned that they were really into technology but specifically Inventory Management. They were so into all the latest inventory technology that they had partnered with their primary distributor to align their strategies with the latest and greatest software/tools for inventory that their distributor was deploying. I was darn impressed but I knew that inventory management was not our focus with our utilization software, so I complemented them and began my demonstration.

During the demonstration I went into the elements of the dashboard reporting with utilization cost per metric and associated benchmarks, but the prospective customer’s team kept stopping me and relating everything back to inventory management. So cost per metric was now being related as cost per inventory item and so on and so forth. I could not budge them away from their concentration on inventory; they were stuck in inventory-only gear and were not shifting out of their zone of excellence which was inventory management.

Now I did not fault this prospective customer and chalked it up to the fact that they were not ready for utilization management as they preferred to focus their efforts on inventory management. This same example has played out in so many different realms of our supply chain, from the totally “price focused” to the “evidence only-ers” to the plain old “not our idea” focus. The bottom line is that their perspectives would not allow them to open up to any new ideas outside their viewpoints.  

Inventory management can save you a small amount of money and offer better customer service but will not disclose where the utilization misalignments are based on cost per metric. Plus, not all products go through the inventory systems of hospitals which limits the view.  

As a value analysis and supply chain professional I have realized that you must be open to any and all ideas, strategies, and tools, otherwise you will be quickly left behind because you are labeled as “one dimensional” by your peers and bosses. The worst perspective or viewpoint you can have is to think that your “go-to strategy” is the be-all and end-all and will be used to obtain all of your objectives. Even carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, surgeons, dentists, and other trade professions use a series of strategies and tools for each situation that warrants their use. We must have that same mindset in value analysis and supply cost reduction to be successful moving forward.