UHC launches medical supply chain app
UHC, an alliance of the nation's leading nonprofit academic medical centers, announced the launch of a mobile analytics application for SpendLINK, UHC's proprietary suite of tools. The mobile app provides a subset of SpendLINK reports that can be accessed via an Apple iPad.
The application, developed by Novation, UHC's supply contracting company, allows users to quickly access information to support strategic purchasing decisions and provides on-demand visibility into price benchmarking.
The app is available only to UHC supply chain members, all of whom are using SpendLINK, a Web-based tool that integrates clinical and supply data for a comprehensive view of a hospital's supply expenses across the continuum of care.
“In the current climate of health care reform, it's critical to be able to access accurate and complete data in order to make strategic purchasing decisions,” Jake Groenewold, UHC's senior vice president of Supply Chain said. “SpendLINK has been instrumental in helping hospital executives and supply chain administrators do that. These 'on-the-go' reports make it even easier for hospital personnel to manage their supply chain and improve performance.”
The reports available on the mobile application are:
Price Benchmarking: Allows members to view their pricing and expenditures against those of 1,400 other hospitals. Intuitive dashboards allow users to view price performance, cost-saving opportunities, and price trends.
Price Leveling: Highlights products that are purchased by more than one hospital across a system (or integrated delivery network) where prices are not standardized, to show opportunities for savings.
Budget Impact Report: Illustrates pricing trends for the upcoming year by contract and spend category. The report offers projections on the cost of the raw materials needed to manufacture a given product and how those costs might affect budgets.
Supplier Diversity Report: Helps monitor a hospital's spend with diverse suppliers. Users can view a breakout of their diversity spend by type (minority-, veteran- or women-owned businesses), by vendor, or by product spend categories.
NOVAPLUS: Matches a broad range of products to their equivalents in the NOVAPLUS line, Novation's private-label brand and Identifies potential savings from converting to NOVAPLUS products.
“We are excited to provide solutions that allow UHC members to instantly track supply prices, make quicker decisions, and lower their overall supply costs,” Dan Sweeney, Novation's senior vice president, Information and Data Services said. “Mobile capabilities have grown exponentially and are revolutionizing the way hospitals can conduct business. These applications help speed up processes that used to take days, weeks, even months.
“This means UHC hospitals can improve their bottom line, increase operational efficiencies, and invest in other resources and activities that improve patient care and safety.”
The SpendLINK mobile application, which is free to UHC supply chain participants, can be found in the Apple App Store by searching for UHC.
Edited by Kevin Scarpati
Will Public Procurement Budgets Increase in 2021?
Procurement is more than just a private enterprise. COVID-19 reminded us that sourcing materials is an essential part of the government’s role. Throughout 2022, tiny departments sourced massive amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical supplies, and emergency vaccines and testing kits. Even non-procurement professionals were pulled into the fray, as frantic timelines demanded nothing less.
According to Celeste Frye, co-founder and CEO of Public Works Partners, the crisis brought procurement to the attention of skilled employees who had never considered it. As non-procurement personnel stepped up to help their coworkers, many found that they’d stumbled upon a critical and rewarding job. “Existing public employees have seen the essential nature of the work”, Frye said. “[They’ve] gained some critical skills and possibly [grown] interested in pursuing procurement as a longer-term career”.
Small, Local Suppliers Take Charge
Frye, whose firm helps organisations engage stakeholders and develop long-term procurement strategies, thinks it well worth the effort to open one’s mind to new opportunities. Cooperative contracts, for instance, can help public departments and municipalities save money, time, and effort. By joining together with other towns or cities in the region, public procurement teams aggregate their purchasing power and can drive better deals.
These cooperative contracts have the added benefit of advancing equity. Smaller suppliers that struggle to compete with established firms for government contracts can act as subcontractors, helping big suppliers fulfil bits of the project. Once they get their foot in the door, small, local, and disadvantaged suppliers can then leverage that government relationship to take on additional projects.
Especially as governments start to pay attention to procurement resilience, public procurement departments must expand their requests for proposals (RFPs) to take into account innovative solutions and diverse suppliers. According to Frye, Public Works Partners—a certified female-owned firm—has benefitted from local and state requirements that specify diversity.
Post-Pandemic Funding Swells Procurement Budgets
And the pandemic won’t be the end of it. City governments need to build sustainable energy infrastructure such as solar panels, charging stations, and recycling plants, ensure that masks and medicines are never in short supply, and source new technologies to keep up with cloud and cybersecurity concerns.
Public procurement budgets will likely increase to match demand. As Peter Ware, Partner and Head of Government at Browne Jacobson, explained, “in a non-pandemic world, the [U.K.] government spends on average around £290 billion on outsourced services, goods, and works...anywhere between 10% and 14% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Post-pandemic, city procurement will only increase as national governments provide local divisions with emergency funding.
And in truth, government employees might jump at the opportunity. Frye noted that public procurement could give immediate feedback on new programmes: “[Procurement] is where new laws and policies ‘hit the road’ and are implemented”, she said. “Professionals in these fields get the satisfaction of creating real change and seeing quantifiable outcomes of their work”.