Winning Strategies for Sports Medicine Sourcing
According to Healthcare News Journal, Sports Medicine is one of the fastest-growing categories in the US – expected to surge to $13.17B by 2025. We were able to sit down with orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Anshuman Singh. Dr. Singh is a UC Berkeley undergrad, UCSF Medical School grad, and Harvard fellowship trained, Kaiser Permanente physician, an assistant professor at the University of California San Diego. He is one of the highest volume shoulder surgeons in the San Diego area.
Dr. Singh helped us paint a picture, at the category level, from a physician perspective, on how to help move the needle on cost and quality in the Sports Medicine category.
Q: How often are you looking at new products in general?
Dr. Singh: I would say that it’s interesting for me personally because I have an interest in product development. I do from time to time look, survey, and see what’s out there via the internet.
The reality is that it’s really led mostly by the companies because oftentimes I’ll be approached by local reps and salespeople and they’ll show me what’s new. Secondly, learning about new products is also driven by professional conferences. Most surgeons will go to one or two conferences a year and they’ll walk by the booth and see what’s new. Lastly, advertising. I do read a couple of journals every month. I would say journals, meetings, and sales reps are the three most common ways that surgeons hear of new products.
Q: What criteria is guiding you as you decide what’s going to peak your interest or be worth a look?
Dr. Singh: It’s interesting. Most surgeons will first ask themselves, “Is this something that I think works for the patient and will improve outcomes?”
The second thing is, “Can I use this given my skill-set?” There are new products and procedures that oftentimes you were not formally trained in during residency and fellowship programs, so there’s a comfort level with that.
The third thing is cost and workflow. Unfortunately, though the cost is usually not the first two or three things most surgeons think of.
Q: How do you learn about the cost differences between devices? And, what are you doing to find the value in new products and procedures?
Dr. Singh: As a surgeon, you have to learn what the cost is. It’s perhaps not surprising to the supply chain professionals that surgeons generally don’t know how much things cost. There have been several studies on this. One of my friends, who is the Chief of Shoulder at Duke, did a study where they surveyed doctors and asked, “How much do you think this anchor costs or this nail costs?” If they got within 25% of the cost, they considered that a good answer. The vast majority of surgeons could not get within 25% of the cost.
Surgeons really need to get that price data, and a lot of times, that’s not on our radar. My advice for a SCM leader is to make efficiency and transparency a key principle. Within your organization, you have to be transparent, especially with the end user — the surgeon.
Q: From a surgeon perspective, how can supply chain personnel best leverage negotiations with vendors for sports medicine products when market share, surgeon preference, and rep relationships are so widespread?
Dr. Singh: Number one is you must involve the end user in the process. Involve surgeons early and more often in areas where they’re useful. For example, seek surgeon input to determine if products are clinically equivalent or not, or technically easy to put in. Surgeons need to be engaged in the process, they should sit on the committee, and they should be privy to the data.
Number two is being transparent and sharing price and service data is very critical. For example, say “Hey, this rep is really available for us. These guys are great about delivering things on time. These guys aren’t.” Surgeons want SCM’s opinion!
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