Thursday, November 15, 2012

Be the Buyer Hero

Healthcare reform keeps swirling around us all. Pressure is being put on all parts of the healthcare supply chain to reduce costs and increase efficiency. According to ModernHealthcare’s 2012 Survey of Executive Opinions on Supply Chain Issues found that 91% say reducing medical and surgical supply costs is very important with 80% of the providers saying it is part of their organization’s strategic plan.  If you are a buyer in the medical supply chain, this initiative has likely landed on your desk. There is no one sweeping magic answer to the challenge ahead, but there are steps you can take now to make headway and look like the buyer hero!

Take a look at who you are working with and buying from.  Are you actively buying off your GPO contract or other buying partnerships? If you aren’t involved in these, now is the time to step on board. GPO’s, IDN, ACO’s are all working hard to negotiate lower and best pricing deals which equates to savings. Buying through your wholesaler or distributor has many advantages and can lead to efficiency and savings. Other times speaking directly with your vendors on creative ways to reduce costs such as buying a larger quantity or different timing of your shipments can drive additional discounts.

Capital verses Commodity
When looking at reducing expenses, most buyers start with the big ticket items. This is  natural since they are larger line items on the budget, however significant savings can be found when looking at commodity items. Disposables and supply items used daily add up fast. Put these items on radar for value analysis. Review them with your buying group affiliations for deals you may be missing. This can show up as immediate savings making you look good!

Collective Think Tank
No one has all the answers and being so close to the numbers can blind us. Put together a collective think tank of people from various areas of the business especially those working with the items you are purchasing. Ask them what they recommend or could do differently.  You might discover the size of an item is actually too big and staff is cutting or folding the item - wasting time and money. Going down a size will meet our need and save expense. Another item you might be ordering every 10 days but if you bumped your order for 15 day usage you reap the benefit of the price break. You will be surprised at the saving ideas the front line can share.

Rules and regulations are created to make your business run smoothly, but building in flexibility can help you capitalize on opportunities. Appropriately take advantage of special offers or close out deals. Many suppliers are running promotions to move inventory off their books this year. You don’t want to be swimming in mountains of inventory, but take time to see what will work for your business to reap the savings benefits. Starting the new year off with a reduction in a line item can make you shine. 

Change is constant. Looking at the supply chain buying differently, developing new approaches, and working with your supply partners you will be up for the challenge and become a buying hero. Have other tips that have worked for your teams? Please share below in our comment area. Happy Buying!