Today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette featured a story about UPMC – the city’s largest employer – working on a proposal to outlaw the acceptance of “freebies” from suppliers.
Yawn. This is no big deal right? Many of you may already have such a policy in place.
Well, unlike other industries, I think that this is a real big deal in health care.
We all have politically powerful people in our organization. These people will often try to exert their power so that they can keep their favorite suppliers, no matter what the cost is or how blatantly the supplier is taking advantage of that relationship. And, whether the “victims” realize it or not, those suppliers use freebies to psychologically win over these people over time and firmly entrench themselves in budgets for years.
When evaluating your spend and where it should be directed, sometimes you can persuade these people to participate in objective, multi-criteria decision-making. Other times, you can’t.
But with doctors, I understand it is nearly impossible.
Some internal customers have big egos. Egos that make them say to themselves, “I’m the world’s leading doctor/aerospace engineer/whatever and there is no way that I’ll let paper-pushing, low life purchasing agents tell me what suppliers to choose!”
And internal customers in each industry will have their trump card – their argument that is designed to be indefensible – that helps them keep their favorite suppliers. And in health care, that trump card comes in the form of statements like “It is unreasonable for you to propose that we sacrifice patient care to save a few pennies! These are people’s lives we’re talking about here. And do you think you know better than me how to treat a patient?”
How can you argue with that?
Well, the step that UPMC is taking is to try to get the highest levels of executive support to address one way that suppliers get unfairly entrenched. Let’s watch this and see what they decide…