Contracting Executive Profile

Edition: July 2012 - Vol 20 Number 07
Article#: 4020
Author: Repertoire

Eric Bergerís career in healthcare began as an officer in the Army and saw him through a number of positions with various organizations, including Partners HealthCare, CSC, Cardinal Health and Brockton Hospital. He joined Northeast Hospitals in 2006, where he currently is responsible for centralized purchasing/contracting, supply and distribution operations across the organizationsí campuses, as well as internal courier services and the mail and copy center.

Repertoireís sister publication, The Journal of Healthcare Contracting, recently spoke with Berger about the Northeast Hospitalsí supply chain strategy.

The Journal of Healthcare Contracting: What has been the most challenging and rewarding project you have been involved in recently?

Eric Berger: Over the last 18 or so months, we evaluated new GPO relationships and made the decision to change ours. We have completed the analysis of the RFP responses, coordinated the change, signed letters of commitment and participation, and ensured that the correct pricing was loaded across the entire supply chain spectrum. Communications and change management were essential in all aspects of this decision. We coordinated product conversions and evaluations with our various value analysis teams and broke down some long-standing relationships, not just with our old GPO.

JHC: Describe a project you are excited to implement in the near future.

Berger: Due to some recent personnel changes in my department, I have the unique opportunity to overhaul the entire structure of the department. It is exciting to lay out various options and contemplate how they will enable the department to meet the organizationís strategic goals and objectives.

JHC: What is the most important quality you look for in a supplier partner?

Berger: I think it boils down to communication. This needs to occur in the day-to-day activities, such as order/transaction management, and in the strategic level discussions about the goals, needs and plans for each organization. There has to be a contact at the supplier that operates at a high enough level in its organization to understand my big picture and how its organization can support that picture across their many divisions. I think Cardinal Health does this well.

JHC: What is the biggest change we can expect to see in healthcare contracting in the next five years?

Berger: I think that the biggest change will be a heightened awareness of the supply chain and, more specifically, contracting, by the C-suite. Facilities will wrestle with GPO relationships vs. self-contracting. At the same time, senior leaders will need to evaluate what those decisions will require from a staffing and skill set perspective. The old days of doing more with less wonít work in tough times. You canít expect to identify and implement the kinds of savings that organizations will require in the future with todayís staffing models. Strategic sourcing and physician preference item contracting and management require a different skill set than the traditional paper pushing organizational structure, and those skills have not historically been in place in most organizations.