Beyond the Transaction: Improving Provider-Supplier Partnerships

By Korina Fischer

“Inflation is really hitting us hard. We are in the worst financial crisis since 2008. We want suppliers to provide proof of how costs are increasing for them.”

Sound familiar? When we speak with supply chain leaders at hospitals and health systems across the country, we hear this concern time and time again. As the cost of care continues to rise amid inflationary pricing and supply and labor shortages, healthcare supply chain professionals are also struggling with availability and delivery challenges. Ultimately, these factors and more have exposed the need to move supplier relationships beyond the transactions and into the realm of strategic partnerships.

“We want our suppliers to take some of the risk. We also need them to help us create a plan to eliminate waste and drive savings.”

The idea of forging true partnerships between the health system and its suppliers is not new. In fact, a full decade ago, researchers at Gallup concluded the following:

“The buyer-seller connection benefits tremendously when it changes from a relationship based on price to one based on advice. In an advice-based relationship, the supplier’s high-quality counsel creates a partnership with the buyer that is fundamentally different from a relationship based on price — and thus constantly negotiable.”

This concept is rapidly gaining ground today. Driven by the severe pricing and availability challenges hospitals face – coupled with the very limited resources most supply chains have relative to the enormous impact they make on enterprise-wide financial health – providers are now asking for more transparent relations with their suppliers. Healthcare organizations need to know more about how pricing is affecting their suppliers’ bottom lines, and they are asking suppliers to become more efficient instead of increasing costs to the buyer, which the health systems cannot absorb.

“We need to have more data-driven discussions with our suppliers. How can we, as the buyer, send demand signals to manufacturers? How can we work together to illuminate the path to more cost savings for our health system?”

The key to unlocking a more strategic partnership is providing rich data, of course. For a supplier to become the true partner that supply chain leaders seek, the provider side must come to the table with better insights on cost, utilization, demand (past, present, and future), and more.

It is difficult to be transparent if neither party can see the data surrounding actual utilization and patient consumption. The right technology will help the supply chain overcome the cost and availability issues that are so prevalent for supply chains today. To eliminate waste, stockouts, and unsustainably high supply costs, health systems must invest in smart technology that integrates all relevant data sources to enable predictive modeling, scenario planning, and simulation. And they need to share those insights with suppliers.

“Labor costs are too high, especially with travel nurses, and our supply chain is being asked to save the day – but I’m not sure how we can add value with our current processes and insights.”

Supply chain leaders are not typically tasked with staffing issues – but these are not typical times. It’s true that many are now being asked to support nursing and HR leaders with a plan to reduce exorbitant labor spend. Certainly, the request sounds herculean for supply chain professionals still functioning with disparate data sources and manual data management. But with the right insights – curated by the power of data integration, artificial intelligence, and machine learning technology – it is actually quite possible for the supply chain to help “save the day” on labor costs.

Advanced analytics like DemandAMP+, powered by MUUTAA, can play a pivotal role in improving the relationship between providers and suppliers. DemandAMP+ identifies patient-driven demand and consumption trends while optimizing required order quantities and alternate purchasing decisions. This first-of-its-kind technology communicates data-backed requirements to your suppliers and builds trust by providing more extended forecasts, increasing agility, and boosting proactiveness. Contact us to learn more.

About the author

Healthcare AI entrepreneurKorina Fischer is the Chief Executive Officer and Cofounder of MUUTAA, a healthcare AI company focused on patient-driven demand for clinically integrated supply chains. She is a forward-thinking entrepreneur with 20+ years’ proven leadership in health IT ecosystems, pharmaceutical and medical device supply chains, clinical workflow, and relationship management. To contact Korina, email


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