Often, when supply chain leaders discuss cost savings opportunities with surgical teams, their ideas are met with a heavy dose of skepticism, resistance, or even anger. From the surgeon's perspective, with an edict coming down from above, it can be difficult to accept changes from those who have never spent significant time in an operating room nor participate directly in clinical care. For surgeons specializing in surgeries using implantable devices, any initiatives that impact their implant preferences may cause considerable angst.
However, this is not to say that surgeons must always be considered an impediment to your cost savings goals. In fact, we have found that surgeons can be the most passionate supporters of your cost savings efforts when a collaborative tone is set from the outset and done so early and often.
Surgeon involvement is a critical part of Kermit’s implant spend management approach. Kermit was founded by former medical device representatives who spent countless hours in the operating rooms and are keenly aware of the sensitivities that surgeons have to changing their products.
The Kermit approach is to honor the surgeon for the role they play in the supplier decision and contracting process. After having managed hundreds of RFP projects for implantable medical devices across all major spend categories (e.g., orthopedic reconstruction, spine, CRM, etc.), we have found these conversations do not need to be adversarial or so technical that supply chain professionals do not feel equipped to have them. On the contrary, many surgeons want to be involved and provide assistance.
Here are the four ways to garner support.
Involve Surgeons Early and Be Transparent
Kicking off an implant cost-saving initiative without surgeon involvement at the outset risks surgeons inferring many things about the process and potentially tipping off your suppliers (or worse). This, of course, is not the ideal way of presenting a “united front” to the supplier as it exposes the lack of stakeholder unity.
Fractures are the main thing your supplier sniffs out like a predator in the wild tracking its next meal. You may achieve some symbolic price concessions; however, your full savings potential will not be realized.
In most cases, surgeons just want to understand why the project is necessary for the financial health of the organization, the potential impacts to them, that fair and accurate prices are being requested and to have a voice when decisions are being made.
And they deserve that!
Kermit has a proven methodology for negotiating every category of implants combined with strategic approaches for certain specialties and service lines. After initial data gathering, utilization, and cost analysis is performed, the first meeting is with surgeons to review the who, why, what, and how of the project. Specifically, who is on the team from both hospital administration and Kermit subject matter experts, what is the current and best thinking on the national and regional stage. Why is this cost-saving initiative paramount for sustained operations? What will the impact be the potential impacts on them and their patients? How will this engagement unfold and what expectations are on them? Finally, the number one question is: will they lose access to the devices they know (and favor) the most?
In short, Kermit lets the surgeons know that not only are they welcome to be involved in the project but that they are a critical factor in its success!
Reducing Suppliers for Cost Reduction May Not Be Necessary
Surgeons have a concern, and rightfully so, that these initiatives will change or eliminate their preferred suppliers, alter their comfort with instrumentation and implants, or impact patient outcomes. This does not need to be a point of contention or discomfort for any non-clinical supply chain staff in their interactions with surgeons. This can become an opportunity to strengthen the collaboration between the clinical, supply chain, and finance teams.
So how do you achieve year-over-year cost reduction from suppliers without increasing your revenue or utilization commitments to them? After all, the category is referred to as Physician Preference Items. How do we balance the need for cost reduction and the preservation of physician preference?
The Kermit approach is to level the playing field among suppliers. This is done in a way that honors surgeons as a decision-maker in patient care by categorizing implants by type, regardless of material, shape or other features that do not affect patient outcome. The categorization is shared early in the process to obtain surgeon feedback and endorsement. During the Request for Proposal process, the prevailing market price is applied to the categorized implants and constructs, allowing an “all play” approach that the surgeon can support. If the team running the initiative (including surgeons) desires to reduce vendors, that strategy can easily be incorporated into the approach. Kermit’s approach and technology allow for supply chain and finance to achieve the savings they are looking for while also allowing every surgeon to keep their preferred vendors and products.
Leverage Data and Analytics to Validate Decisions
For many surgeons, their reluctance to collaborate on these initiatives lies in the concern that decisions will be made by analyzing inaccurate data and focusing only on implant cost.
The Kermit technology captures data at the point of use – in the operating room – and properly classifies, categorizes, and prices each implant and accessory used. And whether from finance or supply chain, administrators can be confident that Kermit’s data is accurate and will resonate with surgeons. The moment you can produce a photograph of the bill only sheet in one click, you win surgeons to your side.
Credibility is solidified when you can have technical implant discussions with clinical stakeholders and surgeons without being an expert in the implant design. Kermit’s categorization and expert staff are by your side to ensure collaborative discussions on cost reduction, spend management, and superior patient care.
At Your Service: Scrub-Wearing Experts, Not Suit-Wearing Consultants
Everyone has their areas of expertise. For that reason, you may feel different taking your car to be serviced by someone wearing a three-piece suit than you would feel with the trusted, name-patched mechanic with grease-stained coveralls.
For surgeons, O.R.-impacting projects being led by corporate executives can give an uneasy feeling, especially when they know that those consultants are only there to find savings for a fleeting period of time before moving to the next project. Kermit’s, “scrub-wearing experts” have spent a multitude of hours in the O.R. We possess the skills and experience to go toe-to-toe with medical device firms while ensuring that the cadence of the operating room is not impacted.
Learn How Kermit Can Align Your Surgeons and Find Savings
With over $200 million in implant savings for client hospitals, Kermit’s approach not only produces results but also ensures surgeons are aligned with the initiative.
Want to learn more about how Kermit can produce impactful implant savings for your hospital or health system? Complete the form below.