Premier puts supply chain in the cloud

Cloud-based solution designed to manage procurement process
By Bernie Monegain
10:16 AM

Premier aims to take the inaccuracies and inefficiencies out of health organizations' procurement process with PremierConnect Supply Chain, a new cloud-based, software-as-a service tool the healthcare alliance recently introduced.

It is designed for health systems to manage their entire procurement process across the continuum of care, Premier officials say.

Powered by Premier's integrated performance improvement platform PremierConnect, PremierConnect Supply Chain, Premier describes it as a comprehensive, real-time and flexible procure-to-pay and supply chain analytics suite. It enables users to easily measure supply chain and operational performance, identify inefficiencies and take quick action. The integrated solution manages the procurement process by synchronizing data to ensure pricing is accurate, savings are realized, and efficiencies are driven that improve outcomes across the entire health system.

[See also: Premier makes big connect with big data and Bon Secours launches Premier BI platform.]

"When it comes to managing expenses in healthcare, supply spend is typically second only to labor," said Lowell Church, vice president of material management at Adventist Health, in a news release. Adventist is an early adopter of the tool. "Many health systems are still operating their supply chains using a variety of different data systems with information that is 30-90 days old," he added. "Today, this data isn’t standardized across all of their facilities. Providers really need a timely, integrated supply chain with real-time data to drive quick, holistic decisions that improve patient outcomes and reduce costs."

The tool enables data-driven purchasing and operational decisions across hospitals, health systems and growing integrated care delivery networks alike. Its interoperable functionality allows it to communicate with other procurement solutions.

[See also: Amazon model for supply chain service.]

"The lack of interoperability in procurement systems creates both a cumbersome and costly purchasing process," Keith J. Figlioli, senior vice president of healthcare informatics at Premier, said in a statement. "Health systems, especially those that are acquiring new facilities, need a cohesive and transparent view of all areas in the procurement process." As Figlioli explained, just think of the tool like your smartphone, "where you can check your bank account, make a purchase and email a coworker on one device. It's not just a phone."

The supple chain tool incorporates capabilities from Aperek, acquired by Premier in August 2014, to accelerate the development of integrated purchasing workflow solutions that drive operational efficiency and improve financial decision making, Premier noted. Other capabilities include:

  • Real-time supply analytics that analyze spend across the continuum of care (by facility, physician, alternate site, service line, etc.) to help users understand when, where and why spend is changing. This enables supply chain comparisons and visibility to spend throughout a health system, providing actionable insights into utilization patterns across all contracts.
  • Online sourcing and contract management to optimize and electronically manage all contract decisions, including pricing, terms and expirations.
  • Customizable catalog management that aggregates, cleanses and normalizes disparate data from different systems, and standardizes purchases to identify price discrepancies for full control of all orders.
  • ERP/materials management capabilities enabling users to plan, buy, receive, pay and manage the procurement process while integrating, monitoring and executing daily work streams across all sites of care.

In development for more than two years, the Premier tool has been tested and adopted by several health systems, including:

• Adventist Health, the 19-hospital health system headquartered in Roseville, California.
• Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, Maryland.
• Fairview Health Services, a nonprofit academic health system with six hospitals, headquartered in Minneapolis.
• Memorial Healthcare System, the six-hospital health system headquartered in Hollywood, Florida.
• Mount Sinai Medical Center in South Florida.