The Healthcare Supply Chain Management Category

The Medical Device Reprocessing Industry: Will the Third Time be the Charm?

Alfred Hitchcock provided a great definition of the difference between surprise and suspense. It goes like this: If a bunch of guys are playing poker and a bomb goes off under the table, that’s a surprise. If, however, we know that the bomb is there and we watch the timer tick down while the men play on, that’s suspense. When Warren Buffett said that the ballooning costs of healthcare “act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy,” the financial markets acted like a bomb went off and the media covered the story like none of us knew it was there. Let me save you the suspense: egregious profiteering in the medical-industrial complex is the head of the tapeworm that Buffett spoke about.

Healthcare: Fix What’s Broken vs. Repeal and Replace

These days especially, there’s an unlimited supply of hotly politicized topics perfectly suited to make sure we talk past each other — and learn nothing. Healthcare provides numerous examples. For example, President Trump got a rise out of the Brits last week tweeting barbs at its beloved National Health Service (NHS), a topic which, by his own account, he knows little about. Trump zeroed-in on a recent NHS protest and sparked a backlash saying that the “NHS is going broke and not working.” The protest he referenced, interestingly enough called “NHS in crisis: Fix it now,” was organized by the People's Assembly and Health Campaigns Together. The movement is supported by most all of the U.K.’s largest unions.

Healthcare Matters Merges with the Mothership


Healthcare Matters is merging with Spend Matters to allow healthcare procurement and supply chain professionals to find industry news, updates, relevant insights and knowledge in a central location on a single site. Healthcare Matters content will now be found on under the header Healthcare Supply Chain Management.

Taming the Tapeworm: Even Amazon Needs a Little Help


As reported earlier this week, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan have announced a partnership to cut health costs. Apparently, the partnership won’t be Amazon-led but rather an independent company that will operate “free from profit-making incentives.” What does that mean? My best guess is that the new entity will deliberately bear no resemblance to the current group purchasing organization (GPO) supplier-paid fee model.

Healthcare Consumerism: Supply Chains that Follow the Patient Home

There’s been a lot of talk about “healthcare consumerism” lately. Is it really about increasing competition among insurance providers? As the acute care market continues to consolidate and vertically integrate, aren't the insurance pickings for most of us getting conspicuously slim, especially if employers are making our coverage decisions? Here’s where I’ve landed: If healthcare consumer advocates are relying on insurance companies to drive “consumerism,” then they’ve put the cart before the horse. My money is on the jockey, and the jockey in this race is good old-fashioned consumer preference.

U.S. Healthcare Needs Private Equity

The Wall Street Journal is reporting this week that two major hospital systems, Ascension and Providence St. Joseph Health, are in merger talks. If the deal goes through, the combined entity would include nearly 200 hospitals across 27 states with annual revenues of about $45 billion. The combination would surpass the current largest U.S. for-profit hospital operator, Nashville-based HCA Healthcare. Proponents of the deal say the move could add supply chain efficiencies, eliminate operational redundancies and reduce unnecessary spending.

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?

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.

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


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.