I often write and talk about the collaboration gap between healthcare providers and suppliers. Click here for a visual depiction. This gap is created during the procurement process when providers send out long, detailed Request for Proposal documents, and suppliers respond with long, detailed proposals. The focus for providers tends to be on the requirements, specifications, process rules and evaluation criteria to be used in making the decision and the focus of suppliers in their proposals tends to be the features and benefits of their product or service. But what if the supplier's features and benefits don't meet the provider's specifications and requirements? Then we have a gap, and that gap could be closed with increased collaboration.
Here are some ways to close the collaboration gap:
- Run a purchasing process that is outcome-based, not focused on requirements and specifications. Focus on the question, "What are we trying to achieve by making this purchase?"
- Implement procurement processes that include suppliers as stakeholders. Find out what options there ae in the market place before embarking on a formal purchasing process. Use mechanisms like Requests for Information, Best and Final Offer and Vendors of Record to involve suppliers earlier on in the process.
- Understand the interpretation of the rules. There are many different rules around public procurement in Canada and we need to come to a common understanding about how they are being interpreted and utilized. Suppliers must understand how their customers are using the legislation.
- Distinguish between strategic and commodity purchases. A company can't run the same type of procurement process for gloves as they do complex technology. Identify the purchases that are most strategic to the success of the organization and run those purchases in a more collaborative manner to ensure the right decision is made.
- Communicate differently. The way that suppliers used to communicate and sell to their healthcare customers has changed. The focus needs to be on solutions that have an impact on performance and results. Focus on case studies and results to ensure customers see the value of the solution and understand how it will help their performance.
There is a better, quicker, and more effective way to do things that will achieve better outcomes.We just need to implement the right initiatives.