Questions From Your Peers

Hundreds of supply chain, clinical, and MedTech professionals joined our panel of experts to discuss the latest trends in the healthcare supply chain and value analysis issues across all relevant stakeholders. 

We wanted to share a round-up of many of the commonly asked questions during the webinar to give you insights into how your peers are thinking about the challenges facing them. 

*** Some of the questions have been edited for clarity, conciseness, and anonymity. ***

Q: Does every hospital have a Value Analysis Committee? Other than physicians, who typically sits on a Value Analysis Committee?

A: No, every hospital does not have a value analysis committee. But, the majority of mid to large health systems do. Typically, a VAC includes physicians, nurses, contracting, value analysis professionals, materials managers, and supply chain professionals. In some health systems, there are also pharmacy-related employees on a VAC. The more significant trend is for many health systems to move towards value-based care and value analysis committees.

Q:  Do you feel that there are times when product requests are automatically thrown out because the sticker price is higher than what you are currently using, even though it may save you in the long run? 

A: It depends on the hospital and its revenue pressures. In some systems, pricing and cost considerations are paramount. Initial pricing is not a prohibitive consideration to value analysis in other health systems. 

Q: How would you quantify data for something like bipolar forceps?

A:  Considerations may include how many times the tips need to be cleaned, whether the insulator needs repairing, whether the terminals bend, etc.

Q: What are your recommended steps to optimize and accelerate the Value Analysis Committee review process? It’s been my experience that this process can vary in time depending upon the institution. 

A: The most innovative medical device representatives work closely with their sales leadership to develop account maps. Since the value analysis process is, by definition a multi-stakeholder environment, understanding who decides what is the first step. Additionally, don’t hesitate to develop a relationship with the value analysis and supply chain leaders to understand what data and resources they need from you to thoroughly and quickly review your product. 

Q: Does VA go back six months later to look and see if their goal was accomplished? Did the savings occur or not? If they switched to a vendor for savings, are they looking at how the patient outcomes are impacted?

A: It depends. Hospital value analysis programs are at different stages in their value analysis maturity. In some organizations, data is not collected effectively enough for a retrospective. In other organizations, bandwidth constraints may limit the review of previous decisions. However, we are seeing many organizations carve out specific processes to calculate the efficacy and outcomes of new medical technology. 

Q: Physician/clinician integration within the supply chain and value analysis processes can enhance the value brought to the customer. How has the development of physicians and training criteria been modified to accommodate the much-needed clinical interest/participation in the supply chain department within healthcare?

A: In the ideal world, we would teach supply chain in medical school, or at least practice it in residency. However, there is no formal education program that focuses on supply chain per se for physicians. Even physician-executive courses on medical management doesn’t really touch upon it. Physicians in supply chain usually learn on the job from their supply chain colleagues. I have worked on developing some curricula on supply chain and resource management for physicians, but really they learn best from their colleagues. In my old work, we did our best to train physician leaders who led value analysis teams using some AHRMM and AHVAP materials. There is also some ongoing interest by industry leaders to develop physician councils within their own networks. AHRMM is also taken interest in supply chain education for clinicians. I think in the future, physicians who are managing value-based care and quality assurance by reducing variability will develop interest in supply chain as they are pressured to reduce cost and waste. That actually may be the better approach!

Q: Do you think that 3-5 year contracts are effective with technologies changing so fast in this day and age? 

A: Current thinking suggests new tech is influencing GPOs and IDNs into undertaking shorter contracts. The amendment process can undoubtedly be cantankerous.

Q: How does new technology get into consideration?

A:  It depends on the organization. There are many factors ranging from value analysis teams, facility vs. IDN-level decision-making, and the role of physicians. Additionally, technology plays a role, with many health systems adopting platforms such as GreenLight to help manage the flow of new products. 

Q: When you go through the greenlight process, and it is approved, do other facilities in the same IDN see that it has been approved, or does it have to be entered for all hospitals in the IDN?

A: It depends. Some IDNs have integrated approvals. Other IDNs require facility-by-facility submissions. 

Q: Does it make a difference to Value Analysis Committees when considering consumables vs. capital equipment? Is it the same process to evaluate these products?

A: Yes, it does make a difference. Capital equipment is often housed under a different team. It also contains a separate budget and is considered on a different timeline. However, there is overlap because most capital equipment purchases require downstream disposable products to operate. 

Q: What is the best approach to engaging physicians in the rural hospital setting … i.e., need for physician contracts to ensure patient customers have access to quality physicians, but the hospital is not held hostage by a contracted physician’s wants?

A: Rural physicians don’t have many options to take their services elsewhere, so value analysis teams have much leverage in standardizing product selection. But, gaining executive buy-in and rolling out the standardization collaboratively alongside physicians is critical. 

Q: How does VA evaluate these when presenting “me-too products” to value analysis teams? 

A:  Value analysis teams consider equivalent products based on clinical efficacy and interchangeability, pricing, and availability. 

Q: Clinical data is certainly important, but at what cost is it necessary for a product that is seen as more of a “commodity” product where data will have very little if any clinical impact? 

A:  For many health systems, commodity products are usually considered based on availability, pricing, contract status, and historical experience with vendors and physician preferences. 

Q: We struggle with the Value Analysis Process and our OR/Surgeon requests. I know that we are not the only ones. They want what they want, and it is always a battle. How can Greenlight be an effective tool for bridging the gap between Physicians and Purchasing? 

A: Many health systems have value analysis programs led by physician preferences. The key in many organizations is finding physician champions and leaders who can manage the expectations of their service lines. Developing collaborative product guidelines backed by clinical evidence helps value analysis teams avoid the one-off physician-by-physician preference battles. GreenLight Medical’s portal enables clinical evidence sharing at the point of product request and the ability to engage reps who may be building a separate case. By bridging all stakeholders into a unified communication channel, decisions will be based on data and clinical evidence. 

Q: Is it valuable to survey the clinicians to gather info to show the facilities where there are issues and pain points are and then show how a product can address these issues? And then a survey after an evaluation to deliver the outcomes of how the product addressed those issues/pain points?

A:  Surveying clinicians and identifying key pain points is a great strategy. But it is consumer and client intelligence that your sales and marketing leaders should be commissioning before you are even sent into the field to sell. Many organizations consider this to be sales enablement and sales intelligence. 

Want to watch the town hall on-demand? Access the recording here!