G2X Media’s President, Susan Sharer, had the opportunity to connect with Ted Dagnal, Director and VP, Government Strategy with Prodigo Solutions to discuss supply chain challenges within Government, synergies and lessons learned from the commercial space.
What is the Synergy Between the Government and Commercial Supply Chain Environment?
We know the pain points in the commercial space and thought those might be transferrable to Government and to the Healthcare space and we’ve spent time in recent months confirming that.
One of the biggest challenges is data management and standardization and while there are some shining stars in various sectors doing it well, there are the same challenges within Government that exist in the commercial world. Specific to Healthcare, providers typically manage an item formulary with more than 150,000 items associated to thousands of contracted vendor sources. As a result of inefficient data management practices, item data too often is incomplete, and prices are inaccurate. We’ve seen on the commercial side that this leads to over 35% error rates on transactions in the purchasing workflow. This is inefficient for all trading partners involved in the transaction.
We’ve been working on a project with the Department of Veterans Affairs focused on cleaning up their Supply Chain Master Catalog, linking items to the correct contract source of each of their purchasing locations and then enriching items with data attributes that give people a better description and even an image of the items they are looking for. Things like improper pricing, vendor errors, not obtaining the correct item from the right source at the contracted price creates huge inefficiencies and gaps in the ability to streamline the supply chain. Building a detailed and accurate data repository that can be shared with the Government and commercial side helps ensure both are aligned. When we are talking about patient care from the commercial side and the Government side, it isn’t any different. All of those same items are needed to provide proper care on both sides.
When you can ensure your order is correct from the start fewer touchpoints are required over the lifecycle of that order so those people who used to be needed for that tactical work can be used for more strategic applications. Focusing on things like getting all vendor and manufacturer names standardized provides new opportunities for insights into the data that we may not have thought possible before. The resulting efficiencies and visibility provide savings in time and money all along the supply chain.
What are the Top Pain Points?
As mentioned, data quality and standardization are two big challenges. There are a lot of anomalies in data including multiple vendor contracts tied to the same manufacturer, inactive items and so on. The ability to see everything in one place, to have a single source of truth to see everything on a valid contract with access to master files, national item files and so on is invaluable.
Right now, there are different systems that store contract information that are not harmonized. There may be people who want to and need to see the data who don’t have access to all of those systems. Putting everything into a single source of truth ensures item managers, those along the supply chain, and the end user, in the case of Healthcare the clinician, can easily find accurate information on items to ensure they are getting exactly what they need.
In order to fully understand how to move forward and the steps we need to consider, we bring in frontline subject matter experts from the supply chain and contracting side to share their process so we can incorporate their needs and values. This enables us to understand how it can help and how it all should work. The end goal is ensuring a product that is better for stakeholders and end users.
We have learned that there is great value in having perspectives from various people across the supply chain line weigh in on the data design to describe what would be helpful to their roles. There were a lot of things we didn’t realize when we started.
Data Management and Standardization Practices
A big part of standardization is syntax, trying to find matches for standard vendor names to create that single reference across an agency. Seeing everything in one place allows for more careful and considered recommendations. For instance, an agency may need to be able to see secondary and tertiary vendors to be able to fill minority vendor requirements. However, they need to be able to see the whole picture, including available discounts from larger vendors through quantity buying. In some cases, that larger vendor may make more sense but unless you have transparency, unless everyone is speaking the same language, those opportunities may not be obvious.
Experience on the Commercial Side to Benefit Government
Our solution is based on a consultative approach from start to finish. A lot of system integrators don’t take the time to explain why certain features or capabilities are important. All of our deployment teams are schooled in supply chain technology, best practices and experienced in data management so they can answer questions, talk the talk, and offer recommendations to make the process better
We know that on the commercial side, if you give someone a tool that is hard to use or not easy to figure out, they will do what they can to avoid it. We know the VA community has struggled and done things not based on having the right tools to do the right things, in part because some of those tools were not designed with the end user in mind.
That isn’t what we’re about. Our system is designed to be easy and user friendly. Ultimately, people can figure it out without any training. We know that if a system isn’t easy, if the data isn’t accurate, if it can’t find what they need, then it won’t be adopted. That being said, custom training videos are hosted in the application so that users are able to review product features and functionality. As new people are onboarded to the system, online training is available on demand to facilitate their orientation.
At VA we have heard from stakeholders that senior leaders right up the line are really involved in our efforts and very engaged.
About Ted Dagnal
Ted Dagnal has been with Prodigo Solutions since inception and involved in Information Technology, Customer Support, Client Services and Project Management for 30 years. As VP, Client Services, Ted was responsible for all facets of delivering Prodigo’s unique supply chain solution set to Healthcare clients. Ted brings the organization an exceptional array of diverse leadership, operations, and technology experience. Ted is now the VP, Government Strategy and is responsible for all public sector initiatives and programs.