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Supply Chain Needs Clinical Engineering and Vice Versa

Supply Chain Needs Clinical Engineering—and Vice Versa

The key to a good working relationship between clinical engineering and the supply chain department is contained in a simple word: collaboration.

So said Michael Bohon, founding principal of HealthCare Solutions Bureau in Show Low, Ariz., at the 2011 annual conference of the Association for Healthcare Resource and Materials Management (AHRMM). The event was held in August at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

“We need to work together not just on a couple of cases but consistently, on all purchases,” said Bohon. “So many problems can be avoided by these two groups working together with the clinicians. So much money can be saved and so many bad expenditures can be avoided.”

Bohon offered these thoughts to Healthcare Technology Management following a breakout session he co-led at AHRMM.

During the session, “Secrets of the Supply Chain That the C-Suite Should Know,” Bohon explained that many C-level hospital leaders think they have a problem with their supply chain—and they’re wrong. “You don’t have a problem with your supply chain,” he said. “You have a problem communicating with your supply chain.”

After softly scolding his supply chain audience for their part in letting problems fester before speaking up, he presented evidence that the C-suite is doing its part to reach out. Earlier this year, he said, some 400 members of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) attended a talk he gave on supply chain management at that group’s annual congress.

“They came to listen because they wanted to know the secrets of the supply chain. Apparently, their supply chain staff weren’t telling them,” Bohon added. The presentation went over so well that the ACHE has asked his firm to conduct a webinar for its members “so more executives can listen. Maybe we’re starting to make some improvements. Maybe we’re starting to open the door just a bit."

Bohon’s co-presenter at AHRMM in Boston was Michael Rudomin, principal of HealthCare Solutions Bureau in Bolton, Mass. Among the “secrets” the two disclosed: Supply chain staff can work with surgeons without upsetting them, supply chain leaders can assist with construction and expansion planning, and most supply chains miss out on the benefits of strategically partnering with other hospital departments.

In the post-session interview, Bohon didn’t hesitate when asked what particular expertise the supply chain looks to clinical engineering for.

“Standardization,” he replied. “It’s such a key point in all products, but especially in equipment. We have to work with the clinical engineers because, if we start buying different kinds of equipment, they’re going to have to stock more parts, get more manuals, get more training and so on. For all these reasons, and others, we need to work very closely together.”

(Healthcare Technology Management - October 2011 Issue)

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