Thoughts from the recent IDN Summit in Phoenix

I just returned from the Fall 2011 IDN Summit in Phoenix and I came away feeling pleasantly (hopefully not delusionally!) optimistic about where healthcare is headed.  Why?  I think that the industry is showing one of the most positive signs of human nature, that at a certain point people simply reject negativism.  In fact, studies have shown that one of the causes of the business cycle – in this case the upswing portion – comes from people’s collective unwillingness to indefinitely dwell in the doldrums.  The result — a challenge, once feared, becomes something to overcome. It sure felt that way in Phoenix!

I don’t mean this to imply that all the details about how we get there are clear … perhaps just the opposite really.  There are expectations of upheaval from greater consolidation, uncertainty about how ACO structure – and with it the significant trend of physician practice acquisition – is going to play out and the ever present concerns about diminishing reimbursements. 

However, supply chain is stepping up to this challenge and taking a progressively firmer grip on the wheel as a leader in the charge to move healthcare forward. This development was evident at the conference within some of the educational programming. Leading, forward thinking supply chain executives from some of our nation’s largest and most respected healthcare systems spoke about their innovations and their vision for the future of healthcare. Additionally, system CEOs and CMOs joined the discussion to talk about the shift in supply chain from order fulfillment to integration into overall business strategies.

With this, there was a noted migration in the focus amongst these leaders from simply looking for ways to reduce clinical product spend, to ways of working with the entire enterprise to optimize business processes in order to save costs and deliver better care.  Part of this – something near and dear to MedSpeed’s heart – was an emphasis on the purchased services category.  Tied to this as well was more and more discussion about how to drive change through partnerships that are not “zero sum games”, but rather joint efforts to streamline activities to the mutual benefit of all engaged trading partners. 

This last point, to me, is vital.  Change, even when it is a necessity for survival, is never easy.  But as an aligned group, all of us invested in coming through this period of change better for it can make it so together.  Here’s to a great ride! 

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