Five Minute Consult

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , July 13, 2010
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Ray Nassief, the vice president of operations/support services at John Muir Health, favors a team approach to efficiency in standardizing the supply chain for the two-hospital, 478-staffed-bed health system, which engages the entire staff in choosing cheaper options-but only if they improve quality.

“When we went into this, it wasn’t because we were hurting financially. We needed to get ahead of how the payer mix is changing. We wanted to find out whether we could do standardization for our two facilities and look at contracts to see if we were getting the bang for the buck. We engaged our physicians to help make sure we’re using the right implants, pharmacy, and other supplies. At all times, we were never to compromise the quality of patient care. We wouldn’t do something cheaper just because it was cheaper. If it didn’t improve quality it didn’t happen. In the cardiac cath lab, for example, we started with education. We presented them the data and explained the contracts and how they could be improved. We had a target of saving $4 million over a two-year period starting in June 2007 through June 2009. But we more than doubled our goal by saving $8.7 million. We have five teams who work with purchasing, so there’s not much of a financial outlay for the program itself. The patient care team is made up of nurses on both campuses; we have a team that works with cardiac cath and radiology because those spend big dollars, and we have a group that works with the pharmacy and therapeutics committee, as well as a team on support services, and one on surgery. All teams are cross-campus. We also have an employee suggestion program. If they come up with an idea that is meritorious, they get some type of financial reward. We’ve given them a check in the five figures, and it’s because their suggestions were so good.”

Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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