Contracting Executive Profile

Edition: November 2012 - Vol 20 Number 11
Article#: 4106
Author: Repertoire

Richard Blackburn joined CaroMont Health in 1986. During his first 17 years with the organization, he worked in Materials Management. Since then, he has served as the director, and in 2010, he assumed responsibility for support services. Today, he oversees facility services & construction, food services, housekeeping, materials management, medical records, safety & security, and sterile processing.



MDSI: What has been the most challenging and rewarding project you have been involved in recently?

Richard Blackburn: We have continuously improved our relationship with physicians and suppliers and now have physician councils that review service line performance, which includes cost, quality and patient satisfaction, among other things. Our supply chain processes link clinical, financial, and operational elements to deliver value for patients and clinicians. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect is receiving a call from a neurosurgeon, cardiologist, or orthopedic surgeon asking for our advice about how to control cost.



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

Blackburn: Our organizationís vision is to be a nationally recognized leader and valued partner in promoting individual health and building vibrant communities. For materials management, this gives us an opportunity to do a number of things. First, we hope to identify local suppliers that can provide services and products. We want to put money back into our local economy. We are exploring different options. For instance, we currently use a linen product that comes from a local textile company. Second, with CaroMontís focus on wellness, including reducing chronic disease in our communities, materials management is collaborating with clinicians, local agencies, and vendor partners to identify products and services to foster improvements in health. Third, every hospital is focusing on reducing readmissions. Materials management must source products and services for physicians and nurses, to enable them to improve patientsí chronic and acute conditions, assisting to prevent unnecessary readmissions. Lastly, CaroMont is striving for Baldrige recognition. We firmly believe our supply chain processes will demonstrate performance excellence with our approach, deployment, alignment, and integration of supply chain across our organization.



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

Blackburn: Responsiveness is an important quality. The measure of a vendor is how it responds to and resolves issues when they occur. A vendorís responsiveness to a problem communicates its integrity and commitment to CaroMont. Two vendors that exemplify our value of responsiveness are Owens & Minor and Hospira. However, we have many others that provide exceptional service

and responsiveness.



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

Blackburn: As pricing becomes more transparent in the market, price will be easier to negotiate [and] there will be an expectation for suppliers to be price transparent. In addition, hospitals and providers will continue to confront the mandate for quality. We will also see revenue shrink. Materials management will serve a vital role as organizations try to master the cost-to-quality ratio.


CaroMont Health, Gastonia, N.C.

435 bed non-profit hospital integrated system, annual supply and purchased services spend of approximately $130 million.