Johns Hopkins Health System: One Hopkins through HopkinsOne

Edition: October 2005 - Vol 13 Number 10
Article#: 2236
Author: Frank Nieto

Johns Hopkins Hospital, part of the Johns Hopkins Health System, has been viewed since its opening in 1889 as the model of the American academic medical center. The facility has topped U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of “America’s Best Hospitals” for 15 consecutive years, and it has been the No. 1 magnet for National Institutes of Health and other grant funding for more than a decade.

With three hospitals (Johns Hopkins Hospital, Bayview Medical Center and Howard County General Hospital), the IDN maintains a strong presence in Baltimore. And it maintains close ties to Johns Hopkins University. In fact, the Health System adheres to a tripartite mission of research, teaching and patient care.

Despite its emphasis on research, Johns Hopkins is committed to patient care. “Patient volumes have never suffered because of our commitment to research and teaching, and we [are] very competitive when compared to our peer institutions,” says Kenneth Grant, VP of general service for Johns Hopkins Hospital and VP of supply chain management for Johns Hopkins Health System. “We continue to do well in getting competitive pricing, because we have the volume to support it as well as the appropriate third-party alliances.” Grant is a 25-year veteran of the healthcare industry, most of that time having been spent in materials management.

The IDN uses Irving, Texas-based Novation for pharmaceutical purchases, but contracts independently for most non-pharmaceutical supplies. However, because of its membership with the Maryland Hospital Association, the IDN occasionally accesses GPO pricing through PRIME, the Maryland Hospital Association’s procurement arm, which is affiliated with Alpharetta, Ga.-based MedAssets and Mechanicsburg, Pa.-based MAGNET Inc., says Grant.


Johns Hopkins maintains its reputation through constant adaptation in every area of the system, including the supply chain. “The review and refinement of our supply chain operations is a continuous process,” says Grant.

In summer 2006, the Health System will implement HopkinsOne, an initiative designed to replace many of the business and administrative systems of the hospitals, the university and Johns Hopkins Medicine and its affiliates. Grant says the project encompasses finance, human resources, payroll, purchasing, accounts payable, materials management and pre- and post-award research administration activities.

“One of the main objectives of HopkinsOne is to simplify and standardize Johns Hopkins’ business functions by introducing best practices across all three entities, so that we can improve service, compliance and productivity,” Grant says. The system has no plans to use any of its current purchasing systems once HopkinsOne goes live. In addition, it should be noted that Howard County General has been excluded from HopkinsOne, because it has its own supply chain system.

The HopkinsOne purchasing module will take advantage of the automated capabilities of an online, integrated brand of computer software known as SAP, which is developed and sold by SAP AG in Walldorf, Germany. SAP is a fully integrated business solution that will automatically check for overspending and will use controls to improve compliance with internal purchasing policies and external regulations.

Johns Hopkins University employees will continue to use procurement cards for small-dollar purchases. This purchase information will be transferred electronically into SAP to track expenses and generate payment.

Supply chain makeover

In addition to HopkinsOne, the system has installed point-of-use technology to track supply utilization, handle patient charging and provide supply replenishment data in real time. “Most of this activity is supported by both hand-held computers and biometric technology,” says Grant. About 90 percent of the IDN’s supply activity is automatically restocked.

Hopkins is also undergoing a major campus redevelopment that will result in significant changes in its supply chain processes. “We currently receive supplies and equipment through three primary loading bays. Overall there are four docks with a total of 14 bays scattered across the campus. Within the next six months, we will be moving our campus-receiving activity to a new location that will have a total of 16 clean and seven dirty receiving bays supported by an automated towline system. [The system] will move material from the receiving area to the main building,” Grant explains.

The system’s 65,000-square-foot distribution center will also be upgraded, due to the installation of HopkinsOne. “As we get closer to going live with HopkinsOne, we will be moving forward with the use of [radio frequency] technology,” says Grant. The distribution center also provides low-unit-of-measure delivery services to its customers. “This is an area that is constantly under review to ensure that it remains competitive with the low-unit-of-measure programs offered by many of the major distributors,” Grant says. Johns Hopkins’ distribution partners are Owens & Minor for medical-surgical, McKesson for pharmaceutical, Office Depot for office supplies and Standard Register for forms.

To suppliers seeking to do business with Johns Hopkins, Grant offers this advice: “We have an expectation that prices be competitive, services be timely and products support our efforts to provide the best possible care. We expect [suppliers] to provide safe products and, when appropriate, to be willing to support our efforts to stimulate economic development in Baltimore by aligning themselves with small and minority-owned businesses.”

About the author: Frank Nieto is editor of Repertoire’s Dail E-News and U.S. Lifeline’s Major Account News. U.S. LifeLine Inc. is the Carlisle, Pa.-based Information Division of MDSI, publisher of Repertoire.