Bellwether League, Inc.George Y. Hersch

George Y. Hersch


Status: Retired
Career span: 41 years
Last title: Vice President, Supply Chain, Norton Healthcare, Louisville, KY


Innovative, leading-edge, pioneering accomplishments befitting a Hall of Fame career:

Focus on mentoring, education, and/or advocacy to advance other supply chain professionals and executives, and the profession as a whole:

Demonstrations of leadership:

Innovation in practice:

Managing professional relationships and services:

Hersch was a very good facilitator, leader, implementer and mentor, while yet a “humble servant” who was adept at diplomacy and convincing others to operate in a way that benefited the organization and its patients.

He was a serious innovator, working collaboratively with physicians at a time when Supply Chain leaders avoided those connections. Developing a closed medical supply formulary at a research/teaching hospital – UCLA Medical Center – represented a major accomplishment.

Hersch was very effective at gathering the data and information that made the case, and neither he nor his ego would become the issue, or the bad guy. Described as being a thought leader and a change agent, he was willing to roll up his own sleeves to research, develop, sell it and implement it. For example, early in his career at Franciscan Health, he used his own research and data to convince radiologists to switch X-ray agents to nonionic from ionic to save money.

Through his cost-reduction efforts, he helped Norton save $5 million to $7 million annually during the last five years of his career.

Commitment to ethical and moral standards and integrity:

Perhaps the best example of this involved a consulting job. While Hersch successfully worked at one organization with a particular consulting firm that helped generate positive outcomes he refused to engage that same firm when he moved to a subsequent organization because he felt it might look like he was playing favorites.


What are your impressions about Bellwether League Inc.’s mission and philosophy, and how do you feel about becoming an Honoree?

I am proud to be inducted into an organization that emphasizes the key role of supply chain in healthcare. At no other time have the demands on supply chain been so great or important in its contribution to the quality of patient care. Bellwether League challenges men and women in healthcare supply chain to innovate, to collaborate and to improve best practices in supply chain operations. It is an honor to be part of an organization dedicated to this.

What attracted and motivated you to get involved in the healthcare supply chain management field when you did?

Charles Housley introduced me to this profession in 1977. I didn’t realize my good fortune at the time, but I would be working with and learning from one of the greatest professionals in our field.

For what one contribution would you like to be most remembered?

Developing a technology assessment process that involved intense physician collaboration to control supply cost and quality has been one of the most satisfying achievements of my 42-year supply chain career.

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?

Be brave and creative in developing new approaches to healthcare supply chain management.  Don’t be afraid to fail. Learn from your mistakes and continually improve best practices.

What is the one industry challenge you would like to see solved during your lifetime?

I would like to see the relationships that physicians have with their healthcare systems exceed the relationships they have with their suppliers of medical products and drugs.

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?

Supply Chain sees cost and quality as both sides of the same coin in addressing patient care supply needs.  It exercises fiduciary responsibility to the organization while providing the best tools for caregivers to deliver quality patient care.

In two sentences or less, what defines healthcare supply chain leadership?

A strong healthcare supply chain leader understands that the best solution to any issue evolves through respectful collaboration with colleagues..  Genuine appreciation for the contributions of others goes a long way to building trust, respect and morale.

If you traveled back in time to when you started in healthcare what would you tell yourself?

Don’t be afraid to try new approaches in solving problems. Best practices are those that are continually challenged and improved upon.