Bellwether League, Inc.New organization recognizes healthcare supply chain leaders

SCHAUMBURG, IL (Jan. 7, 2008) – Because supply chain management professionals are integral to the successful delivery of quality healthcare service and effective and efficient patient care a new organization plans to recognize their efforts and achievements.

Lacking the equipment, supplies and tools needed to perform surgery effectively renders a surgeon powerless and places the patient at risk. But it also highlights the critical and pivotal role played by an important group in the hospital who perform a fundamentally essential function – supply chain management professionals.

These business-oriented but clinically minded men and women must keep their feet firmly planted in two distinct worlds. Not only do they have to supply all of the necessary devices and equipment for doctors and nurses to care for patients and generate top-line revenue for their facilities, but they also have to manage the bottom line through product evaluations and selections, contract negotiations and maximizing the efficiency of the processes that get products to the points of use. The supply chain impact on a hospital’s financial performance can be significant, consuming up to 45 percent of a hospital’s budget. So these professionals continually are challenged to balance clinical needs with holding the line on total delivered costs.

Launched in late July 2007 by a group of influential veterans in the healthcare supply chain industry, Bellwether League Inc. seeks to identify and honor individuals who have demonstrated significant leadership in and influence on and contributions to the healthcare supply chain, including professional from hospitals, non-acute healthcare providers, manufacturers and distributors of healthcare products, group purchasing organizations, consulting firms and educational institutions. Bellwether League Inc. will select individuals that meet its criteria to be publicly recognized and recorded in print and online media for their contributions in advancing and improving all segments of the healthcare supply chain. The criteria include ethics, innovation, integrity, leadership, longevity, mentoring, reputation, speaking, teaching, writing and volunteering. Nominations for prospective candidates can be made via Bellwether League Inc.’s Web site at www.bellwetherleague.org.

Bellwether League Inc. plans to recognize its first group of honorees in March 2008, its second group in October 2008, and annually thereafter in October.

Bellwether League Inc. is a non-membership, non-stock, not-for-profit educational organization that anecdotally profiles the influencers and leaders in healthcare supply chain management, highlighting their achievements, accomplishments, innovations, philosophy and vision as part of an industry “hall of fame” whose recipients are selected annually by the Bellwether League Inc. Advisory Council.

The Chicago-based Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM) has expressed its support for Bellwether League Inc. and also will provide visibility and promotion of its activities.

Why Bellwether League was launched

“Supply chain professionals can be proud of their role and contribution to the healthcare industry,” said Jamie C. Kowalski, co-founder and president, Bellwether League Inc. “What they do every day enables and supports the care provided, while it helps maintain the providers’ positive bottom line. Through supply chain performance optimization and innovations, care can be provided at the required level, while operating expenses are reduced and hopefully, minimized. Every dollar saved through the supply chain goes right to the bottom line and the bank account. This provides the operating cash that supports expansion of services and future innovations in care and/or accommodates and helps fund care for those who need it. Not bad for a profession that typically is under the radar.”

Kowalski is a former hospital supply chain manager who became a prominent industry consultant with more than 30 years of experience and now serves as managing director of business development for Mechanicsville, VA-based Owens & Minor Inc., one of the nation’s largest healthcare supply distributors.

The dictionary defines a bellwether as “a person or thing that assumes the leadership or forefront, as of a profession or industry, and that shows the existence or direction of a trend; index.” Bellwether League Inc. strives to locate and profile those leaders who help make healthcare delivery possible.

“Supply chain professionals represent a critical back-office function that has front line, top line and bottom line implications for the healthcare facility, the clinician and the patient,” said Rick Dana Barlow, co-founder and managing advisor, Bellwether League Inc. “Supply chain professionals work in a complex environment, serving multiple customers – the hospital and clinician directly, the patient and payer indirectly. They supply the tools necessary for clinicians to provide care for patients and in a cost-effective way that keeps the facility offering the care in continual operation.

“Without their clinical, fiscal and technological knowledge and skills, hospitals and clinicians alike would find it that much more challenging to provide quality healthcare to an increasingly demanding patient population,” Barlow continued. “For that reason alone, supply chain management professionals deserve to be recognized and honored. That’s why we created Bellwether League.”

Barlow is the president of Wingfoot Media Inc., a seven-year-old Schaumburg, IL-based editorial consulting and content management firm. Barlow has nearly 17 years of experience reporting on and writing about the healthcare supply chain for a variety of prominent industry publications.

“Individuals who have spent much, if not all, of their careers working hard to improve the profession while at the same time they light the way for others defines this group,” said John B. Gaida, Bellwether League Inc. Advisory Council member and senior vice president of supply chain management for Texas Health Resources, Arlington, TX. “Their dedication every day, month, and year to advancing supply chain technologies, reducing costs, and generally taking risks makes them a special breed in this multifaceted profession. Those who have led the way for others should be acknowledged and celebrated.

“The Bellwether League is one way for all of us to recognize those individuals and their many accomplishments,” Gaida added. “We take pride in not only what we accomplish, but in who we have touched along the way. The Bellwether League is a way to honor those who have touched individuals as well as the profession in a positive way – advancing both.”

Bellwether League Inc. wants to bring to light the efforts of the influencers, innovators, pioneers and risk takers that helped mold and shape the healthcare supply chain profession. Their successes and failures not only promote their leadership qualities but also serve as education and inspiration for future generations.

“Because of the relative youth of the healthcare supply chain profession, the legacy of the early leaders, both in advocacy and performance, needs to be recognized,” said Patrick E. Carroll Jr., treasurer, Bellwether League Inc. “This is not only for the recognition these leaders so richly deserve, but also for the inspiration they have provided, are providing, and will continue provide to the future leaders of the supply chain. The Bellwether League will recognize these leaders of the healthcare supply chain for their accomplishments and provide guidance, inspiration and support for tomorrow’s healthcare supply chain leaders to confront the enormous challenges they face.”

Carroll is a former hospital supply chain manager-turned-healthcare industry consultant with three decades of experience.

“I am honored to be a part of this organization and hope that it will encourage future generations of supply chain leaders to produce even greater achievements in improving the efficiency and quality of healthcare delivery,” said Robert P. “Bud” Bowen, secretary, Bellwether League Inc., and retired CEO of St. Louis-based Amerinet Inc., one of the nation’s largest group purchasing organizations.

Bellwether League’s Advisory Council

The Advisory Council of Bellwether League Inc. comprises a veteran group of industry advocates who have volunteered their time and expertise to create and continually develop the organization and its ongoing educational activities. Council members, which function as the organization’s Board of Directors, include the following:

About Bellwether League Inc.

Bellwether League Inc. is a non-membership, non-stock, not-for-profit educational organization that identifies and honors individuals who have demonstrated significant leadership in and influence on the healthcare supply chain. Bellwether League Inc. selects individuals to be publicly recognized and recorded in print and online media for their contributions in improving all segments of the healthcare supply chain, anecdotally profiling the individuals, their achievements and accomplishments, to perpetuate excellence in the field. For more information, visit Bellwether League Inc.’s Web site at www.bellwetherleague.org.