Though you have to look closely, there actually are some silver linings to this godawful pandemic we’ve endured for more than two years now. I speak specifically of the Value Analysis [VA] process.
In the healthcare arena, we’ve seen unprecedented cooperation and collaboration among competing hospital systems thanks to a refreshing, collective attitude of “patient before profit”. Systems have been sharing best practices, backfilling each other’s dwindling supplies, and supporting one another emotionally during one of the most demanding times in our nation’s history.
We’ve also seen a sharpening of focus among Value Analysis Committees [VAC] charged with objectively assessing and vetting new medtech products or services.
“The pandemic forced us to shift our focus to PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] vetting and sourcing,” said Amy Whitaker, RN, BSN, Corporate Vice President, Clinical Transformation, Advantus Health Partners. “The lasting benefits include sharing best practices with other systems, across-the-board collaboration, and developing a strong ‘can-do’ attitude.”
Mind you, VACs have long been thorough and exacting about what they need to see and hear from medtech innovators … and what they don’t need to see or hear. But over the past 2+ years, in the interest of time and oftentimes stretched resources, VACs upped their game even more … which means you, as the holder of the next great medtech innovation, better have your ducks in a row before you ask a healthcare provider or a VAC for a slice of their valuable time.
Provider Opinions Matter
“Provider preference definitely matters in the decision-making process,” says James Russell, RN-BC, MBA, CVAHP, Director of Clinical Resource Management, MD Anderson Cancer Center. VACs not only want to see proof of improved patient outcomes, they also want to be respectful of the provider’s ease-of-workflow.
While all key constituencies -- manufacturer, distributor, negotiator, hospital system, clinician and patient -- are factored into the decision-making process, VACs give strong consideration to preferences of those who ultimately use the medtech innovation while treating patients. Hopeful suppliers seeking to court favor with providers must also understand VACs trust their providers to offer fact-based, unbiased opinions about the new innovation.
“Wooing providers still occurs – hosted dinners, paid getaways, fees for speaking gigs – but providers know that no new products can ‘come in the back door’,” Russell points out. “They must be fully vetted before being used. Otherwise, liability issues can arise for the provider and the hospital.”
Darby Thompson, a Partner with Excelerant Consulting which helps guide companies with promising innovations through the arduous process of commercialization, says, “Suppliers must understand VA professionals are putting their own reputation on the line when making recommendations and decisions.” Obviously, the same can be said of providers who offer their own personal insight, opinion and preferences to VACs.
As Whitaker pointed out in Installment 1 of this series, “Suppliers must prove their new technology is more efficient, improves patient outcomes and enhances clinician workflow … at a fair price.”