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Bellwether League, Inc.Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership Forum explores key challenges emerging under market reforms

SCHAUMBURG, IL (October 8, 2013) – Bellwether League Inc., the  hall of fame for healthcare supply chain leadership, explored a litany of challenges and opportunities that supply chain executives will face in a reformed marketplace with attendees at its 1st Annual Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership Forum.

During a panel discussion moderated by Co-founder and Founding Chairman Jamie C. Kowalski, the panelists of provider and supplier executives addressed the following:

  • What do Bellwether supply chain executives and the C-suite expect and need from their suppliers today and how has and will healthcare reform change that?
  • What are some of the warning signs that indicate suppliers are “turning off” Bellwether supply chain executives?
  • How healthcare reform is changing the focus of Bellwether supply chain executives, along with their suppliers?
  • How value-focused healthcare reform is reshaping alignment and negotiations between providers, physicians, payers, suppliers and supply chain?
  • Besides falling reimbursement, increased product and service consumption patterns, threats of consolidation and patient volume shifts, what are key ways to keep supply chain operations at the forefront of clinical and economic attention?

In a town hall-type model, provider and supplier panelists and attendees shared their concerns, insights and questions about future clinical, financial and operational procedures.

Among the noteworthy nuggets from the group:

  • Many fully expect calls for a transparent supply chain – from transaction details with the manufacturers to distributors through group purchasing organization contracts and online exchanges to hospital and other healthcare facility consumption patterns – to reach a fever pitch and ultimately, fruition.
  • Look for more healthcare organizations to train their physicians on effective and efficient supply chain and waste management strategies and tactics.
  • Integrated Delivery Networks (IDNs) or Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) may designate one member facility as an incubator for supply chain performance improvement projects that if successful can be rolled out to the rest of the group.
  • Major corporations – including retailers – are shifting their employees to healthcare exchanges rather than providing healthcare benefits directly but they’re defending their decisions by sending them to privately negotiated corporate exchanges and not the federal- or state-run healthcare exchanges under the Accountable Care Act.
  • Contract price finally will take a back seat to value and cost – in that order – with value’s definition determined by each individual provider, regardless of supplier promotional campaigns.
  • Providers will rely on suppliers for value creation, quality improvement and cost reduction initiatives.
  • Supply Chain Executives have changed their concept of value from one based on product quality over price to one much more focused on patient care and population health. The value equation is rapidly changing to one based on dimensions of efficacy, patient risk, product quality, total cost and societal benefit.
  • Supply Chain Executives are engaging the clinical staff more than ever before. Suppliers must focus on research and clinical evaluation of their products in order to participate in this change.
  • Supply Chain Executives recognize that a fundamental change must take place in the relationship between them and their suppliers with collaboration taking place on a much more strategic level. Both must be willing to work together more closely and build a supply network around value.
  • Scale really matters in terms of value provided to patients and not size.
  • Providers increasingly will turn to talent from industry, including healthcare manufacturing and other mature industries.
  • Further consolidation will happen so suppliers must stratify the winners and losers.
  • Providers will see falling reimbursement rates to near Medicare levels, which will drive more objectivity in product and service decision making and more accountability of the physicians that drive many of the decisions.
  • Anyone that tells you that they know what is going to happen with the healthcare exchanges is lying so providers are expecting and planning for the worst.

Bellwether League Inc.’s 1st Annual Healthcare Supply Chain Leadership Forum preceded its 6th Annual Bellwether Induction Dinner event in Chicago on October 1.

About Bellwether League Inc.

Bellwether League Inc.’s Board of Directors selects deceased, retired and currently active professionals with a minimum of 25 years of exemplary service and leadership performance in supply chain operations that meet its criteria to be publicly recognized. Honorees demonstrate their qualifications by advancing the profession through work experience and performance and active participation in professional organizations and their communities.

To date, Bellwether League Inc., has identified and honored 62 innovators, leaders and pioneers in healthcare supply chain management in five distinct categories: Education & Media, Supply Chain Management, Group Purchasing, Supplier and Consulting Services.

Launched in late July 2007 by a group of influential veterans in the healthcare supply chain industry, Bellwether League Inc., is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit corporation that identifies and honors men and women who have demonstrated significant leadership in, influence on and contributions to the supply chain from healthcare providers, healthcare product manufacturers and distributors, group purchasing organizations, consulting firms, educational institutions and media outlets.

Bellwether League Inc. is funded by five Founding and Platinum Sponsors – Kimberly-Clark Health Care, McKesson, MedAssets, Owens & Minor and Premier Purchasing Partners – and a host of additional sponsors.

The Board of Directors of Bellwether League Inc. includes a veteran group of industry advocates:

  • John B. Gaida (Chairman), Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Management, Texas Health Resources, Arlington, TX
  • Patrick E. Carroll Jr. (Secretary), President, Patrick E. Carroll & Associates, Cypress, CA
  • Mary A. Starr, (Treasurer) Assistant Vice President, AdvantageTrust, HealthTrust Purchasing Group, Schaumburg, IL
  • Rick Dana Barlow ( Co-Founder, Executive Director), President, Wingfoot Media Inc., Schaumburg, IL
  • James R. Francis, Chair, Supply Chain Management, and Chief Supply Chain Officer, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
  • Jamie C. Kowalski (Co-Founder, Founding Chairman, 2007-2013), CEO, Jamie C. Kowalski Consulting LLC, Milwaukee, WI
  • Michael Louviere, Bellwether Class of 2010, System Vice President, Supply Chain, Ochsner Health System, New Orleans, LA
  • Vance B. Moore, Senior Vice President, Operations, Mercy, Chesterfield, MO
  • Jean M. Sargent, CMRP, FAHRMM, CRCST, Director, Advisory Solutions, MedAssets, Los Angeles
  • John W. Strong, Bellwether Class of 2011, Principal, John Strong LLC, Fontana, WI
  • Mark A. Van Sumeren, Senior Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, Owens & Minor Inc., Richmond, VA



John B. Gaida
Senior Vice President
Supply Chain Management
Texas Health Resources

Patrick E. Carroll Jr.
Patrick E. Carroll & Associates

Mary A. Starr
Assistant Vice President, AdvantageTrust
HealthTrust Purchasing Group

Executive Director
Rick Dana Barlow
Wingfoot Media Inc.


James R. Francis
Chair, Supply Chain Management
Mayo Clinic

Jamie C. Kowalski
Jamie C. Kowalski Consulting LLC

Michael Louviere
System Vice President, Supply Chain
Ochsner Health System

Vance B. Moore
Senior Vice President, Operations

Jean M. Sargent
Director, Advisory Solutions

John W. Strong
John Strong LLC

Mark A. Van Sumeren
Senior Vice President, Strategy and Business Development
Owens & Minor Inc.


Jamie C. Kowalski
Rick Dana Barlow

Founding Sponsors:

Kimberly-Clark Health Care
Owens & Minor
Premier Purchasing Partners

Platinum Sponsor:


Bellwether League Inc. (BLI) is a non-stock, not-for-profit Illinois corporation, tax exempt under IRS Code Section 501(c)(6). BLI donations and sponsorships are not deductible as a charitable contribution for income tax purposes, but may be deductible as a business expense.