The Association for Health Care Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM), a professional management group of the American Hospital Association, recognized the value of having a subject matter expert on staff who resembles their members and can relate directly to member work environments and challenges. Mike Schiller, senior director of supply chain for AHRMM, has over three decades of diverse supply chain experience from his career in pharmaceutical manufacturing, medical device manufacturing, and hospital environments. Mike serves AHRMM in multiple capacities, including advancing the Cost, Quality and Outcomes (CQO) Movement, Clinical Integration (CI) and creating AHRMM’s learning communities; the Learning UDI Community (LUC) and the Health Care Learning Community (HCLC). He also collaborates on the development and supports the association’s initiatives for COVID-19, vendor vetting program for non-traditional suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the Dynamic Ventilator Reserve. He serves on a number of public/private task force groups, leads AHRMM’s Issues & Legislative Committee, and Supply Chain Resource Council (SCRC). Additionally, Mike oversees AHRMM’s educational activities, content and supply chain management resources that are made available to all health care stakeholders.
Here are some insights Mike shared that can inform C4UHC efforts.
SG: What is the most important work that AHRMM is currently doing?
MS: The CQO movement, which launched in 2014, continues to be an important focus for us. CQO recognizes that Cost no longer is the sole variable to be considered when selecting/purchasing goods, it must be considered in conjunction with Quality; achieving the best possible health, and Outcomes; financial results driven by exceptional patient outcomes. The health care field has been moving from volume-based (supply centric) care to value-based (patient centric) care. As a result AHRMM has been busy convening stakeholders, creating tools and providing resources to help with this transition.
In health care, the supply chain professional sits at the intersection of cost, quality, and outcomes, collaborating with key stakeholders, contributing data and other resources to help guide organizations in their decision making process. In today’s value-based care environment the focus is on improved outcomes, therefore data and purchasing decisions that are clinically integrated (see the excellent Adopting a Clinically Integrated Supply Chain poster) help them improve patient safety and outcomes. This adds value beyond the basic volume-based cost savings approach.
SG: What other progress has been made by AHRMM to make supply chain functions more efficient?
MS: Initiatives around data standards and unique device identification (UDI) are another important focus. In May of 2016, AHRMM established the Learning UDI Community (LUC) to help advance the adoption of UDI in health care. The LUC focuses on identifying issues which impact UDI adoption across the health care field through the formation of cross-functional work groups. Work group deliverables are available to all stakeholders across the health care ecosystem and include recommend practices, case studies, and power point content and templates with the goal of promoting and accelerating UDI adoption. This model has been quite successful and has received international attention. The “secret sauce” in this success is that AHRMM is able to offer an unbiased approach, a safe zone for all stakeholder groups if you will, for identifying solutions.
Another challenge we tackled during the COVID pandemic was a result of the FDA’s efforts to support the need for additional supplies. In March 2020 the FDA began issuing emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for protective equipment, supplies and medical equipment that were urgently needed to care for COVID patients. This led to supply chain professionals being inundated with gray market (non-traditional) manufacturers and suppliers of these products. With limited to no resources available to evaluate these non-traditional suppliers, AHRMM partnered with GHX to research and vet more than 1,000 suppliers and list about 400 that are recommended for consideration. AHRMM has recently partnered with GHX again, this time to vet U.S manufacturers in an effort to support resiliency efforts and raise awareness of domestically manufactured and available goods.
SG: Where do things stand with UDI today?
MS: We have made significant progress, but we’re not where we need to be. This is due to several factors:
- Hospital participation in the existing voluntary programs has been limited.
- UDI adoption has understandably moved lower on organization’s priority lists compared to the myriad of competing priorities.
- Professionals are overwhelmed, understaffed and unfortunately do not have the existing bandwidth to devote to furthering UDI adoption.
SG: What do you wish were different?
MS: If I had a magic wand, we would be transacting and incorporating data standards including the UDI into our clinical and supply chain work streams. These processes would be automated, using universal scanner, RFID and/or OCR technology. My magic wand would help to identify tangible ways to improve transparency, better align incentives between stakeholders in an effort to achieve wide-ranging adoption.
SG: AHRMM has an amazing track record of facilitating standardization efforts. What advice would you offer us for standardizing the provider credentialing process for sales and technical teams who enter hospitals?
MS: First, let me begin by congratulating you on the successful creation of the ANSI/NEMA SC 1-2020 American National Standard for Supplier Credentialing in Healthcare. This is a big accomplishment since no standard existed prior to C4UHC and its collaborators efforts to achieve this. That said, I believe that maintaining a neutral approach is the best way for C4UHC to create the safe space for ongoing advancement of your adoption goal. Just as AHRMM does, C4UHC is now focused on raising awareness of the standard, and that should be done through all available channels, including members, website, social media, events, and published articles or papers. It would also be valuable to build a case study that engages all stakeholders and illustrates the various benefits of standardizing the credentialing process. This could include hard savings, soft savings and operational efficiencies gained from standardization. Consider creating a Venn diagram, as we did, to find the common ground shared by the various stakeholders – a point that everyone can rally around.
SG: Considering that the methods AHRMM uses to raise awareness and advance supply chain standardization have proven to be highly effective, Mike’s advice is worth contemplating. C4UHC is already implementing some of the same methods, but we have more to do to raise national awareness. Stay tuned!