Author Archives: Tom Finn



About Tom Finn

Tom was the editor of Healthcare Matters and is now a contributing author to Spend Matters. He is a serial entrepreneur and reluctant expert in the myriad applications of optimization to strategic sourcing and supply chain management – especially in healthcare, where the first collaborative sourcing projects ever attempted were successfully executed under his direction. He has been the first business executive hired by technology innovators from MIT, the University of Cambridge and CMU, so getting high-brow intellectuals and early commercial adopters on the same page is a battle-tested communication skill that Tom has had ample opportunity to hone over a 30-year career. Tom earned his undergraduate degree at Allegheny College and went on to the University of Taipei to continue his study of Mandarin. He has a knack for connecting dots that others don’t see and a readily obvious ability to communicate the possibilities.


Jaggaer Again Leads with its Chin in BravoSolution Acquisition

While terms and conditions of the transaction are not public, this is a bigger deal than U.S.-centric market followers may think. Regardless of how much Jaggaer paid, the most important feature of this deal is that the U.S. procurement market’s most prolific hunter-gatherer just bought itself a global footprint. Yes, the solution pieces are all there now. And, as Jaggaer's CEO argues, they’re all best of breed. But what he doesn’t mention, nor does Jim Wetekamp, BravoSolution’s CEO, is the word “integration.”

The Specter of Amazon Rx

Shares of Rite-Aid and CVS initially plummeted on rumors of Amazon’s possible move into pharmacy. Surprisingly, however, their stocks prices have recovered of late, trading places with major medical distribution companies McKesson and Cardinal Health. With rumors of Amazon lurking, it was apparently their turn, as McKesson and Cardinal share prices have recently hit the skids. First grocery, an $800 billion business, then drugs, about a $500 billion business, and now medical products?

Old-Fashioned Heuristics: Common Sense Cause and Effect

Regarding the countless examples of reckless government spending we like to mock, I stopped caring a long time ago. Instead, I have turned my attention to the funding of studies designed to confirm things that we should have already known. If you have a sense of humor, there are numerous ridiculous examples where taxpayer money might have been invested more judiciously. Spending more than a billion to confirm that the use of seat belts saves lives comes to mind, as does funding a long-term study to determine whether obligatory handwashing might be a good idea in health care settings. Studying hospital behavior to determine if they might be playing self-serving games with the current reimbursement calculus also strikes a chord.

More on Healthcare’s Saline Bag “Shortage”

The saline bag “shortage” in healthcare has been going on for a few years. I’ve got some strong opinions on the matter, as I have had the pleasure of interviewing the assigned category managers at the nation’s largest healthcare GPOs, health system sourcing professionals and executives at Baxter, B.Braun and Hospira, the nation’s three largest manufacturers and suppliers of the product. It turns out that there are very few resin producers that make the type and grade used to manufacture saline bags. Not only did these producers cut production, but they’ve increased their pricing by more than 300% in the last year. Why?

Supplier Rationalization — Revisited

category management

Rationalizing a supply base is typically defined as picking the right suppliers and the right number of them, but in common practice, it has too often come to mean shrinking or consolidating a supply base in the name of securing more strategic relationships. We tend to forget that supplier rationalization can also mean increasing the number of suppliers used, routinely changing your mix of suppliers or expanding and then reducing the number and types of suppliers you select in support of changing organizational objectives, tests, hunches and the desire to accelerate the transfer of innovation.

The Latest Worst Kept Secret: Amazon’s Move into Pharmacy

“I think Amazon getting into the PBM business (pharmacy benefits management) is a bunch of B.S.,” said Vishnu Lekraj, an analyst with analyst firm Morningstar. “I don’t understand how a company that can ship goods to a consumer can take over every single industry.” According to state pharmaceutical boards, Amazon has received approval for wholesale pharmacy licenses in at least 12 states: Arizona, North Dakota, Nevada, Alabama, New Jersey, Michigan, Louisiana, Connecticut, Idaho, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Oregon, with applications pending in other states. In fact, some of the license types go beyond prescription drugs and include approvals for products and devices that fall under the durable medical products category, such as oxygen and other medical gasses.

Embedding Procurement Across the Enterprise

category management

Has procurement reached a point where it can be trusted with measuring its own performance? Notwithstanding the need for practical checks and balances, is your procurement organization looking through the lens of its own performance microscope or is it pacing the halls of finance, waiting for validation? As procurement becomes increasingly responsible for non-traditional areas of spend and building business cases supporting change, its organizational importance will continue to soar. But cost control is a shared responsibility. And unfortunately, sinking your teeth into the myriad complexities related to measuring a procurement department’s performance often yields more questions than answers.

Almost Famous: Ivalua Acquires Directworks

Confirming the spend management industry rumor mill, Ivalua today announced its acquisition of Directworks. The deal lends serious credence to Ivalua’s tag line — “One Suite. Infinite Possibilities” — as it has the potential to establish Ivalua as the market’s only native, end-to-end S2P solution.

In terms of indirect spend know-how, Ivalua is a thought leader and its software is top drawer. On the direct side, Directworks goes deep, delivering Ivalua an arsenal of hard-won intellectual property based on battle-tested experience.

Wanted in HRM and SCM: Modern Hiring Personas

interview

Following an interesting conversation I had with a notable human resources guru this past weekend, I reread a recent post of mine entitled “Millennials Will Transform Procurement — Not by War but Attrition.” I did so to check myself, as she took issue with some of what I considered to be the article’s safest assumptions. Amidst all of the optimism surrounding the impact of millennials on procurement, my friend questioned how seriously we should take such projections if significant improvements aren’t made to the way we recruit and develop talent.

Can the Latest Supplier Relationship Management Tools Deliver the Clinically Integrated Supply Chain?

On healthcare’s supply side, you’ll meet some of the most sophisticated procurement practitioners you’ll find across industry. On the buy side, talking specifically now about acute care providers, however, you have a group that has carried the reputation of “laggard” for as long as anyone has paid attention.

Take it From a Former Road Warrior: User Conferences Have Come of Age

Eved

Having spent more than 30 years in the software game, I thought I had reached my fill of trade shows and all of the related logistical nightmares. For years, user conferences were saddled with similar baggage (sheep in wolves’ clothing). But not anymore — at least not based on my experience of the last few years. Done well, user conferences bring customers and qualified prospects together in increasingly engaging formats. They have become staged, anticipated events, if not exclusive, peer-to-peer gatherings.  

A New Perspective for Procurement: Understanding RAP

risk

Although I can’t be sure if risk-aware procurement (RAP) can rightfully claim this year’s mantle for most popular new supply chain management (SCM) acronym, it should be a leading contender. Not that it’s about acronyms, or that building a procurement-led and more structured supplier relationship management (SRM) capability isn’t meaty enough on its own, but when you add in the sizzle of supplier risk management (SRM), well, let me put it this way: Chief procurement officers (CPOs) who “RAP” are embracing one of the more powerful hooks the profession has seen in more than a decade.