How to Make Physicians Data-Driven Champions of your Supply Chain

Many factors play a role in the overall financial health of a health care organization, but physician involvement in supply chain decisions is often an untapped resource. Sharing data with physicians can help identify and reduce variance in procedure supply costs because it allows physicians to reach their own conclusions on clinical effectiveness, as opposed to the supply chain enforcing utilization changes. Not only do physicians offer a new perspective on how supply chain changes affect patient care, but they can also offer insight into why certain products are used and which areas are equipped for change. When a health care organization makes its physicians the champions of the supply chain, the benefits are felt across all departments.

Communication with Physicians

To get physicians on board with supply chain decisions, they need to be involved in the clinical and financial aspects of the mission. You must gain their trust by communicating with and fully engaging them in the decision- making process. Present the information from their perspective, not only from a business standpoint. What specific areas are contributing to variation within your organization, and what options are there for change? Why should they care? Explain that reducing variation can have a significant impact on overall quality of care. When physicians understand the reasons behind decision-making, they are more inclined to share this information with their peers.

Physicians also offer a clinical viewpoint and their presence in supply chain decisions can contribute significantly to utilization improvements. When physicians are involved, it not only adds value to the supply chain, but it also positively impacts patient care. Physicians work with these tools on their patients every day and are often passionate or particular about which products they choose – they want to have a hand in determining which items are used.

Back Up with Evidence

Typically, supply chain teams are reluctant to reach out to physicians because they want to avoid the difficult task of convincing them to switch products. You can alleviate this process by providing evidence and data analytics to support your findings. For example, Physician Preference Items (PPIs) are a major driver of cost in the health care supply chain. In fact, data analytics tools have found price variances of up to 442 percent in PPIs, for everything from implants to common supplies, which can have a major impact on an organization’s bottom line.

Objective data that compares supply costs and outcomes by procedure, and breaks that down further by factors like clinician and manufacturer, is extremely helpful in working with physicians toward product standardization. Data analytics tools that allow you to drill into these different levels provide a clear view of variation and expense, allowing physicians to see where exactly the variation is coming from and where there is opportunity for improvement. Sharing this information enables physicians to analyze the evidence and reach their own conclusions on clinical effectiveness and monitoring spend.

Build a Plan for Success

Building a plan that outlines the financial and clinical impacts is essential for success when engaging physicians in the supply chain. If you want the best outcomes for both sides, you must define the objectives, measure your successes, review data with all parties involved and, most importantly, ensure that you share a common goal. Both the supply chain and physician teams must be on the same page when it comes to reducing variation, cutting costs and improving patient care. Work with your physicians by utilizing analytics tools that identify what areas are in need of improvement to establish where to focus your efforts. Your teams should collaborate on the best ways to reach your goals, and then each side can implement the necessary changes.

Reviewing your data analytics to measure improvements over time will show how your supply chain expense is reacting to your efforts and reassure the physicians that their evidence-based decisions are effective in supporting both teams’ goals. Show physicians the specific impact their changes have on your financial and clinical outcomes. As physicians become the champions of the supply chain, they will want to share their findings with others, resulting in improved efficiency and care across your entire organization.