Career span: 26 years and counting
Innovative, leading-edge, pioneering accomplishments befitting a Hall of Fame career:
Ed Hardin attributes much of his success to a relentless work ethic, an insatiable level of curiosity and a desire to never do things as they’ve always been done in the past. If asked, Hardin will tell you that collaboration between suppliers and customers is a cause he is passionate about and will find every opportunity to promote this concept wherever possible. Specific examples of his accomplishments and contributions in this space include:
He has been a tireless advocate for redefining supplier-customer partnerships through collaboration, innovation and performance management. This has best demonstrated in his establishing the industry’s first strategic supplier council at CHRISTUS Health in 2012, then did so again at Froedtert Health seven years later. In addition to establishing these groups, he has presented at numerous conferences and written several articles on this topic in an effort to advance this concept in the industry. Today, there is a growing trend, particularly with provider consolidation, to redefine the supplier-customer relationship through the use of supplier councils. CHRISTUS Health was awarded Healthcare Purchasing News’ 2016 Supply Chain Department of the Year in large part to the organization’s accomplishments with supplier-customer partnerships.
Hardin developed the industry’s first performance reporting of individual supplier performance based upon the balanced strategic planning and management system work of Drs. Robert Kaplan and David Norton. This reporting methodology was first applied to the members of CHRISTUS Health’s strategic supplier council in 2014 and by 2016 had grown in scope to include their top 100 suppliers by spend. A similar effort began in 2019 at Froedtert Health.
Subsequent to the formation of CHRISTUS Health’s strategic supplier council, Hardin established the industry’s first diversity supplier council in 2014 to address the growing need to conduct more coaching and mentoring with traditionally smaller suppliers with less infrastructure. In this way, CHRISTUS Health’s diversity and inclusion strategy could be accomplished by having its suppliers match the demographics of its patients (the same strategy had been applied to hiring of talent).
Hardin was honored by the Federation of American Hospitals in 2018 with the Corris Boyd Award, recognizing his outstanding contribution in fostering leadership and workplace diversity in the healthcare industry. Additionally, in 2015 he was recognized by the Golden Triangle Minority Business Council’s Small Business Advocate of the Year Award (Texas-based privately funded, non-profit organization established for educational developmental training to enhance minority-owned, women-owned small business enterprises).
He founded and chaired the SolVerum (Latin for “light” and “truth”) group in 2015, a supply chain collaborative of six Catholic integrated delivery networks (IDNs), focusing on the sustainability of Catholic healthcare through improved supply chain performance.
He remains active in the healthcare supply chain’s professional association, the Association for Health Care Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM): National board member (2016-2019); Vice President, North Texas AHRMM (2014-2016); President, AHRMM St. Louis (2010-2012); and Secretary and founding member of Texas Gulf Coast Supply Chain (2007-2008).
He serves as adjunct professor teaching supply chain at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Lubar School of Business (2019-present) and served in a similar capacity at University of Dallas, Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business (2014-2018).
Focus on mentoring, education, and/or advocacy to advance other supply chain professionals and executives, and the profession as a whole:
If asked, Hardin will tell you that talent management holds a significant passion for him that is demonstrated in his mentoring, educating and advocating for his profession. His particular interest is coaching young people and taking great pride in their advancement. Specific examples of his accomplishments and contributions in this space include:
He remains active in the healthcare supply chain profession’s national association and local chapter, and teaches at a state university.
Hardin has supported the placement of two to three supply chain interns at his organization each year since 2012. Currently he works exclusively with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Health Administration Program to provide placement of their students during the fall and spring semesters, supplementing a gap in their bachelor’s curriculum.
Hardin is a frequent presenter at industry conferences, including IDN Summit meetings, AHRMM annual conferences, SMI meetings, and a regular contributor to industry publications, including the following over the past five years:
Demonstrations of leadership:
Hardin has managed to stay very active in groups beyond those required of his employer. He is especially proud to take visible roles within the industry as a way to press his message concerning the importance of supply-customer partnerships and increasing innovation. As an active volunteer in his church for many years, he is very happy to more recently carve out time to serve as a board member for several Milwaukee area community groups.
Specific examples of his accomplishments and contributions in this space include:
Innovation in practice:
Another area of great interest for Hardin is innovation. He most recently worked with his supply chain colleagues to transform the clinical value analysis program at his organization. Specific examples of his accomplishments and contributions in this space include:
Managing professional relationships and services:
As collaboration has been central to Hardin’s personal and professional “brand” of supply chain, this is an area that he believes comes readily for him and greatly enjoys. Specific examples of his accomplishments and contributions in this space include the following:
He established the industry’s first strategic supplier council at CHRISTUS Health in 2012, then did so again at Froedtert Health seven years later. Each council had/has membership from up to 25 supplier organizations. The mission of these councils is to foster collaboration of the provider organization and supplier organizational members for the purpose of ensuring that the provider develops to become an industry role model for a balanced, intentional, constructive and, most importantly, productive relationship with its supplier community. CHRISTUS Health was awarded Healthcare Purchasing News’ 2016 Supply Chain Department of the Year in large part to the organization’s accomplishments with its key strategic suppliers.
He founded and chaired the SolVerum (Latin for “light” and “truth”) group in 2015, a supply chain collaborative of six Catholic IDNs, focusing on the sustainability of Catholic healthcare through improved supply chain performance. [Note: this group no longer operates.]
As a “retired” national board member of AHRMM, Hardin co-leads an initiative with another retired member to identify the root cause and make recommendations for improvement to reverse AHRMM’s decline in the number of chapters and chapter membership. This work requires Hardin and his co-lead to work with the Chapter Relations Committee comprised of membership from 17 provider and supplier organizations as well as with AHRMM leadership.
Commitment to ethical and moral standards and integrity:
Finally, above all else Hardin believes in Christ’s admonition to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
His adjunct professor role at University of Dallas, Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business (2014-2018) included the instruction of a business ethics course.
Honored by the Federation of American Hospitals in 2018 with the Corris Boyd Award, recognizing his outstanding contribution in fostering leadership and workplace diversity in the healthcare industry.
A life-long, active member of his church and, at times, has held leadership roles in his congregations.
Married 29 years to his best friend of 43 years. Two kids, both of whom are active in their churches as well as selecting healthcare careers.
His friends and colleagues will certainly say that Hardin intentionally demonstrates kindness, fairness, justice, authenticity and candor in his work with others, believing these “soft” attributes are key to collaboration and success with others.
IN HIS OWN WORDS…
What are your impressions about Bellwether League Inc.’s mission and philosophy, and how do you feel about becoming an Honoree?
I have always considered the Bellwether League’s mission and vision to be unique. It fills a large need in our profession; that is, to recognize role models for their contributions to the industry and the legacies they are leaving in order to shed light on a career path that is proven to be successful and creates the greatest good for our industry and profession. I’m so humbled by this honor and consider this award to be the highlight of my career, knowing full well that I stand on the shoulders of those who came before as well as many equally deserving individuals who have yet to be recognized. I will certainly work very hard during the remainder of my career to live up to expectations.
What attracted and motivated you to get involved in the healthcare supply chain management field when you did?
In many respects, healthcare supply chain chose me before I chose it. I had begun my healthcare career as a consultant in the IT space preparing my clients for Y2K. After this seminal event, I transitioned into operations and financial improvement work in order to optimize the systems we had previously implemented. As my work in IT was primarily the implementation of financial systems, it was natural for me to shift to the area of supply chain. Ultimately, that led to my taking leadership roles on supply chain consulting engagements.
After 16 years, I wanted to realize a bit more work-life balanced, so my first opportunity to do so was to go work for ROI, the supply chain division of Mercy in St. Louis. Even then, I had hoped to one day practice as a hospital administrator as that was my educational background. After a couple of years with ROI, I really began to embrace this profession. I grew to love the work and people involved and ultimately realized this was my calling. It had finally dawned on me that healthcare supply chain had found me and the rest is history as they say.
For what one contribution would you like to be most remembered?
Hard to say. I have been passionate about both customer-supplier relationship management and talent management. I suppose most know me for the former, but I am equally proud of the latter.
If you were to encourage someone – either outside of healthcare or just out of school – to enter healthcare supply chain management and strive to be a future Bellwether League Honoree, what would you tell him or her?
I work with many young people today, both at work and in my role as an adjunct instructor for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I advise young people on a regular basis, and my message is fairly consistent: “Do what you love and do it very well. As a result, you will be successful by any measurement and, most importantly, you are very likely to be happy and content.” Being recognized by an organization as the Bellwether League, while an incredible honor, should not be the object of your efforts. Rather, in the words of Emerson, “winning the respect of intelligent people” is a worthwhile life goal.
What is the one industry challenge you would like to see solved during your lifetime?
I would like clinicians and supply chain professionals to work regularly on proving/disproving the efficacy of products through world-class value analysis processes and procedures, coupled with evidence-based technologies in order to improve patient care and lower the total cost of healthcare.
What do you feel are some of the things that the healthcare supply chain does that’s right – for the patient, for the organization and for the profession … and why?
Though we are not on the front lines delivering patient care, we absolutely empathize with our clinicians and patients. We want to do the right thing and are not generally governed by the price of things alone. Some of us are equipped better than others, but I genuinely believe that we use the resources at our disposal to maximize our efforts to the betterment of our patients.
In two sentences or less, what defines healthcare supply chain leadership?
We are servant-leader professionals in the sourcing and logistics of products, equipment and services in order to improve the lives of our patients and we do this in collaboration with our clinicians, staff, and other members of the healthcare community. We do this work with great integrity, humbly and with an eye toward excellence.
If you traveled back in time to when you started in healthcare what would you tell yourself?
Why did you wait to get into this profession?!