Disjointed Tech Stack? What It’s Doing to Your Healthcare Supply Chain
What’s one thing that could be holding you back from better medical device sourcing results? That “one thing” could actually be several things, if your supply chain tech stack is in pieces and parts.
In this blog, Curvo Co-Founder and CEO Andy Perry walks us through the strategy of a unified tech stack to build healthcare supply chain resilience and engage effectively with clinicians.
The basic formula for a comprehensive supply chain tech stack covers these essential needs:
- Quality enriched data
- Market pricing benchmarks and visibility
- Actionable insights into procedures and surgeon practice patterns
- Automation in sourcing workflow
Why There’s a Disconnect about the Sourcing Stack
In the past, spend management solutions have often been somewhat siloed, requiring three to four solutions to cover different sourcing workflow stages. Surgical case data was often buried deep within a service line or finance function and seldom accessible to supply chain leadership. The solutions might have limited connections to other tech stack components, but aren’t structured in an intentional, scalable way.
A common scenario has a healthcare enterprise spending on multiple disconnected solutions that don't talk to one another. When the sourcing environment involves disjointed systems and multiple data sources, it means headaches for both IT and Supply Chain and no common canvas for conversations with surgeons.
This is important information for any economic buyer of supply chain technology solutions:
- CFO and other finance leaders
- IT leadership and those controlling IT spend
- Senior supply chain leaders in charge of their own budgets
Supply Chain Tech: How Did It Get So Fragmented?
Hospitals pay a cost by doing nothing about fragmented supply chain workflow. How did healthcare supply chains get to this point, with different pieces of software that don’t speak to each other, integration problems, and so forth?
Perry blames inertia and attrition over the years, as well as changes in leadership and contracting. “Different partners come to market with point solutions and point products. And one day, you've got all these great, but disparate solutions that don't talk to one another.” (If your mind goes to EHR for some reason, you get it.)
“It’s not often enough that we take the time to come up for air and really look at all of those different solutions, and invest in learning what else is out there. What else that’s available in the market could check those boxes as a more comprehensive solution?” notes Perry.
Sourcing Technology Consolidation: Good Idea for Your Hospital?
Is consolidating your clinical sourcing technology onto one end-to-end platform worth it? What could you save if you consolidated product data, spend analytics and contract automation onto a scalable, secure platform?
The value of all related tools available on one platform has already been proven in many areas of IT. Technology consolidation offers advantages like vendor consolidation, connected workflow and better user experience.
Hundreds of hospitals have adopted a platform-based approach for medical device sourcing. For them, the change has meant faster sourcing cycles, data-driven contracts and end-to-end spend management.
Online Assessment Tool to Gauge Tech Stack Value
A specially built Technology Value Assessment calculator uncovers what can be saved by consolidating the sourcing tech stack. Curvo created the Technology Value Calculator to make it easier for hospitals to compare their current situation to what they could do with a combined, platform-based solution.
“We saw the need and decided to offer this calculator, because it's a way for people to quickly get to a knowledge point that might help them take some beneficial action,” explained Perry. “Every dollar spent in SaaS and analytics is precious. The value calculator compares where they are with what an all-in-one platform would look like, and shows the value they can realize with that approach.”
All Sourcing Tech, All in One Place: Why It Matters to Finance, IT and SC
How does having the best possible technology stack add value to sourcing strategy? It depends on how you look at it.
Hospital financials are so difficult now, and providers are looking for every dollar of savings. The financials of “inclusive and end-to-end” versus “not connected” show disparate solutions cost more in the aggregate.
There's a lot of opportunity to unlock by consolidating spend management technology onto one platform. “Doing this kind of technical evaluation is as much a budgeting exercise as a strategic exercise,” explained Perry.
“But being in Finance puts you a step or two away from direct knowledge of supply chain technology, and that puts you at a disadvantage. You have no practical way to determine what savings you could achieve without a technology value calculator to do the math,” he said.
“Finance might not be prepared to look at the line items in their budget and understand what they can safely get rid of. Sometimes they just aren't aware that they could get out of this one-off mess for much less cost with one sourcing-focused platform.”
IT professionals know that disjointed technology means more tools and workflow to integrate, manage and support. It means more vendors to manage, and more fingers to point. Plus individual components could be on different replacement cycles, leading to further problems.
Rebuilding a tech stack by replacing or updating individual solutions at different times is disruptive. Maintaining disparate components is usually far more expensive in terms of upfront and long-term costs, than an end-to-end clinical spend platform with multiple solutions included.
For IT, there’s compelling value in consolidating onto a common sourcing platform:
- Only one login credential to worry about
- Easily operate and customize
- Secure, modern architecture
The issue of security is a high priority. “When a tech provider is SOC2 certified, you can have assurance of security versus having to audit and check multiple partners for different point solutions,” said Perry.
“How involved IT gets in the supply chain tech stack depends on the organization. Sometimes IT has a huge amount of influence. In other organizations, decisions are probably made within the organizational functions, and IT has to work with their choices and make it work for them,” he explained.
“So it's probably a little different based on the organization, but usually the less the solution touches or interacts with core systems, the less IT is involved.”
Supply Chain Perspective
There's a suite of essential, enabling technology that any healthcare supply chain needs to do its important work. With an end-to-end clinical spend platform, teams can:
- Share spend data to engage surgeons and administrators
- Analyze scenarios to make good buying decisions for hospital
- Automate the work to get data ready for supplier negotiations
“You can do good work in pockets that are heavily manual, episodic, and one at a time,” Perry noted. “But you can't address this sourcing process at any kind of scale without this essential suite of technical capabilities.”
What Comes Next in Supply Spend Technology Consolidation?
What comes after the Technology Value Calculator? What can hospitals do with this assessment of their supply chain tech stack? Fulfill their potential, that’s what.
- Financial Leader Next Steps - The first thing is to look at budgets for ways they can consolidate their spend with a common platform and a common partner. Hospitals can save a lot of contract spend if they manage it all in one solution.
- IT Leader Next Steps - IT wants fewer vendors and processes to manage. Take an audit of your clinical product sourcing tools and evaluate moving to one purpose-built platform to simplify without impacting data quality.
- Supply Chain Leader Next Steps - Try data through the platform to target and optimize upcoming contracts with spend management data and analytics scenarios. Work with IT to understand opportunities to consolidate.
Should You Consolidate Your Sourcing Tech Stack?
Healthcare CIOs, CFOs and CSMs: Does your team have the right tech stack for today’s strategic sourcing demands? Could you gain more value by consolidating sourcing tools? What could you save if you consolidated product data, spend analytics and contract automation onto one end-to-end platform for clinical spend management?
Within the Curvo portfolio, you’ll find integrated supply chain solutions, not those that show up as costly, siloed line items year after year. Curvo delivers enriched data, sourcing analytics and services on one end-to-end platform. Our technology stack was specifically built for healthcare by healthcare supply chain professionals.