“Tune-up” with these Six Practices for the Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25

By Eric O'Daffer | November 16, 2021 | 0 Comments

Supply ChainPower of the Professionhealthcare supply chainSupply Chain Strategy, Leadership and Governance

The old New York City joke asks, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” And the punch line is “Practice. Practice. Practice.” I live near Seattle, so not a lot of Carnegie Hall questions for me. But healthcare supply chain leaders do ask me all the time, “How can my supply chain advance on Gartner’s Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25 ranking?”

As a long-time author of the ranking, I have mixed emotions on the question. I am greatly encouraged and humbled that this ranking is accomplishing some of our goals — elevating the profession, sparking the debate on what good is and raising the bar. On the flip side, the ranking is not meant to be definitive, and our goal is for health system supply chains to share with each other and get better as a whole.

This blog post’s goal is to encourage every health system to keep getting better. If three practices are good enough to get to Carnegie Hall, I hope my six practices below will be even better for using the lessons from this year’s Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25 and my experience over the past dozen years to meet your goal.

To start, the great news is that our move to an all-Health System Supply Chain Top 25 ranking provided twice the opportunity to be recognized this year as the maturing of the overall healthcare supply chain on multiple fronts caused us to shift the focus of the research.

For those who aspire to reach the Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25, here are my six top “practices” to get there:

  1. Set a goal! And the goal should not be making the Top 25. That is the result. Set a goal for supply chain excellence and start by aligning improved capabilities to the four components of our ranking — Quality of Patient Care, Financial Health, Peer Opinion and Analyst Opinion. See our Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25 Capabilities Model (below) that we refined for 2021.
  2. Get C-suite buy-in for your supply chain strategy! This strategy should align directly to the goals of your health system. These typically tie directly to our capabilities model and the goal of providing the best patient care at a sustainable level of profitability. Make your strategy actionable and measurable. Ask for what you need to best serve the goals of the organization. Supply chain is 37% of the overall health system operating budget and impacts patient care.
  3. Do cool things! An all-health systems ranking has made it harder to differentiate. Our job was certainly easier when we shared stories from manufacturers, distributors and retailers. The good news is that healthcare is a big canvas. Innovate, break new ground in ESG, push the boundaries of the digital supply chain and collaborate.
  4. Share broadly! Doing cool things in a vacuum is great but it does not get you very far in the Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25. Industry Leadership is a key component of our Capabilities Model for a reason. It is one of healthcare’s biggest strengths — the willingness to share supply chain successes. Gartner provides lots of opportunities through our Special Interest Group Communities and The Power of the Profession Innovation Awards. There are many publications, industry events and other awards that also provide the opportunity to share. It is good for business and supply chain.

    “Shyness is nice, and shyness can stop you
    From doing all the things in life that you’d like to”

    – “Ask,” The Smiths

  5. Stick to it! It turns out that 25% of senior supply chain leaders at health systems have less than two years of tenure according to our 2020 Health System Organizational Design Research. In contrast, our ranking this year had 12 leaders in their role for more than a decade! One thing is clear, talent matters, and it starts at the top. Credibility builds over time and sustained leadership means a smoother flight path to success versus constantly taking off and landing.
  6. Be patient! Supply Chain excellence is typically done over many years and sometimes being recognized for building that excellence is a lagging indicator. Do practices one through five methodically and consistently and you will surely be recognized internally at your health system for your contribution and hopefully externally in our ranking.

I am inspired every day by the healthcare supply chain leaders I meet. Keep up the great work and consider these practices. I look forward to recognizing your collective accomplishments in our 2022 ranking.

While we only publish the specific ranking data of health systems that make our Top 25, I offer a detailed review of any individual health system’s performance directly to the requesting supply chain leader of that organization. It is as easy as emailing me at eric.odaffer@gartner.com.

Eric O’Daffer
VP Analyst
Gartner Supply Chain

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