Getting Beyond Like and Don’t Like in Value Analysis

Getting Beyond Like and Don’t Like in Value Analysis

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard the terms “like” and “don’t like” when referring to a product, service, or technology in a value analysis meeting or conversion setting then I would be a very rich person. Let’s face it, this is something that happens just about every day when products are sent up to nursing floors to see if the clinicians “like it” and will accept converting to this new product. But I hate to break it to you folks, using “like” and “don’t like” is so ambiguous as well as subjective. There is better and more efficient terminology that will not only clarify exactly what the end customer means but also eliminate problems down the road that will inevitably happen due to the vagueness of the terms “like” and “don’t like.”

A Lifetime Lesson Learned Still Sticks With Me Today

As a Junior Value Analysis Practitioner in my early days (25 years ago actually) with SVAH Solutions, I would regularly go out and review cost savings opportunities with VA teams and sometimes even with the end clinicians and doctors themselves. Back then we had pretty good data and could back it up with quality alternative products. In one case, I presented a lower cost endomechanical stapler alternative to a VA team and the surgeon who trialed the product was there and basically shot down the alternative. He said that he “didn’t like it” and that it wouldn’t work for him. With my tail between my legs, I came back to our offices and spoke to my boss Robert T. Yokl (yes, my father) for which he asked me what happened to my savings recommendation to the surgeons. I told him that the doctor did not like the product so it got rejected.

Robert T. pulled me into a conference room and asked me to explain exactly what happened. I then resolved myself to, “I’m not a clinician and he didn’t like the stapler, so it ends here.” Robert T. then laughed and said that it does not matter that you’re not a clinician and the fact is that you let the surgeon off the hook with the “don’t like it” endgame. He said that when they push back by saying that they don’t like something in a product you have to ask the question, “What exactly don’t you like functionally? Is it the grip angle, handle tension, length, color, manufacturer, etc.?” Bottom line, all sorts of lights went off and low and behold I just needed to hang in there and find out exactly what they didn’t like and work with that information to find something that met their functional requirements.

What Are We Really Trying to Assess From the Feedback on Product, Service, and Technology Purchases?

We are trying to validate the functionality and reliability of the products that have been brought forth from a value analysis team and/or contract conversion, plain and simple. When you send a product up to a nursing floor or surgical suite, you want to validate that the product meets the end customer’s functional requirements reliably. Instead of the surgeon telling you that he does not like the new endoscopes or the surgical energy device, what does that tell anyone? You need to know exactly what they don’t like in terms of functionality right up front. This will allow you to work with the vendor representatives to find something that will meet the end clinician’s functional requirements. It sounds so simple, but it is too easy to fall into the “like” and “don’t like” trap.

Asking the Right Questions Is Extremely Important with Value Analysis

I urge you to get away from “like” and “don’t like” terminology in your value analysis program and focus on the true definition of value analysis and that is functional analysis. This will give you the exact specifications that you can turn around and match up to the contracted products in your formulary. Using “like” and “don’t like” will only cause confusion and more than likely a heck of a lot more work, so save yourself and your teams a whole lot of time and just stick with functional questions. I’ll leave you with this: Every product has a primary function (must do’s) and then secondary functions, and even the features of the products have functions. They either meet the clinician/surgeon/customer’s requirements or they don’t.

About Robert W. Yokl, Sr. VP of Value Analysis & Supply Chain Solutions
Robert is the Program Leader for SVAH Solutions that provides value analysis, clinical supply utilization, and savings validation tools to help organizations to gain the next level of savings beyond price and standardization.

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