MDSI recently held an educational training event focused on today’s healthcare hot topics at its headquarters in Lawrenceville, Ga. The event, “Understanding IDNs,” included discussions from guest speakers Jim Connor, VP of Supply Chain Operations for Westchester Medical Center; Rand Ballard, senior executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief customer officer for MedAssets; and Rachelle Ferrigno, Strategic Account Manager (SAM)  Southeast, Henry Schein. It also included ACO and health reform updates from Journal of Healthcare Contracting Publisher John Pritchard. The purpose was to help keep industry stakeholders current on the latest issues and to provide a forum to discuss these issues with experts.

“Change is happening in healthcare, faster than it’s ever happened,” said Brian Taylor, publisher of Repertoire.

Some of the discussions included:

With dwindling reimbursement and the rise of charity care, most hospitals and IDNs are obviously looking for ways to save money. As far as the vendor-provider relationship, Jim Connor, VP of Supply Chain Operations for Westchester Medical Center, says clinical considerations come into play, but vendors and suppliers need to consider the financial implications of a provider choosing their products or services. The days of cutting checks without fully understanding how each dollar was spent are long gone. There needs to be an effort to show how the product or service enhances clinical outcomes and the bottom line. “You guys have to protect your margin,” Connor told the audience, “and I have to create mine.”


Physicians are coming to IDNs, and not the other way around. Westchester Medical Center has grown in the number of offsite offices to more than 30 with the recent trend of physician acquisition. However, it’s often been the physicians contacting WMC and not the other way around. A number of factors are contributing to this, including older physicians wanting to retire, younger physicians valuing less hours and responsibility over quality of life, and economic pressures. Connor says after a nearby hospital filed for bankruptcy, its payroll of physicians and surgeons were soon looking for work. Nearby hospitals and IDNs were at an advantage of choosing which ones to bring on board.


Vendor credentialing is here to stay: “In a forward thinking institution, you won’t talk to a clinician until you get approval from the institution,” he says.

Rand Ballard, senior executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief customer officer for MedAssets, discussed some of the key issues for hospital and IDN executives. At the top was dwindling reimbursement. “Every hospital CFO says they’re never going to be paid more,” he says. “They’re just not. All these quality measures and shared savings, it’s a cost reduction.” He also listed: fee for service vs. fee for volume, that care is delivered in siloes and that providers are struggling to make money on the government programs. Changing reimbursement structures, altering delivery models, and ACO considerations are “constant” issues facing providers, Ballard says.

Rachelle Ferrigno, Strategic Account Manager (SAM) Southeast, Henry Schein, showed a six-minute video before her presentation on Schein’s strategy with IDNs, which included interviews from health systems and Schein managers and reps regarding physician alignment and how it’s changing the healthcare landscape. Ferrigno emphasized that the video was taped in 2010. Although physician alignment has been getting a lot of press lately, the trend started earlier, and some industry leaders were already forming plans to adapt. “It’s important for our customers, our sales reps and managers to understand what’s taking place out there,” she said. “In addition to those testimonials (from customers interviewed in the video), it helped us to build a market strategy, to understand where we are now, how the market is shifting, and where we need to be in the next five years.”

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