Bellwether League, Inc.Dale A. Montgomery

Dale A. Montgomery

Dale Montgomery is one of those people who can truthfully say he learned our business “from the ground up.” His career in healthcare began in 1966 when he was hired at Hadley Regional Medical Center in Hays, KS, as an orderly. He moved to the physical therapy department in 1968 and four years later transferred into the purchasing department.

In 1980 Montgomery was promoted to Director of Materials Management. In 1991, the two competing hospitals in Hays (Hadley Regional Medical Center and St. Anthony Hospital) merged to become one entity called Hays Medical Center. After the merge, Montgomery was in charge of bringing together the two diverse purchasing departments with two very different methods of doing business. He was up for the challenge though, and in 1993, Montgomery was promoted to Hays Medical Center’s Vice President of Support Services, the position he held until his retirement in 2014. 

Over the years Montgomery has proven himself to be a tireless supporter of the materials management profession at both the state and national levels. He served in leadership roles in both the Kansas Association of Healthcare Resource Materials Management (KAHRMM) and in the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM).

Montgomery also is involved in humanitarian efforts around the globe. He has been part of the Project Perfect World Foundation since its formation. This organization sends medical teams consisting of physicians, nurses and other clinicians who perform medical procedures on children in disadvantaged countries. Montgomery himself coordinates and accompanies the medical teams on their trips to Ecuador whenever possible.

Montgomery also has been an avid participant in local government and civic groups. He served on the USD 489 school board while his children were in school and has been a member of the board of the North Central Kansas Technical College for many years. He is part of the Heart of America Development Corp., consisting of community business members working together to bring commerce into the Hays area. He and his fellow KAHRMM members also officiate at the annual Special Olympics Basketball Tournament held in Hays every year.

Montgomery retired on June 30, 2014. His stock answer to questions about what he planned to do next was that he’ll find something to keep himself occupied. His colleagues know that he won’t be idle for too long in that he always is on the lookout for something that needs improving.

Montgomery’s lengthy career represents a clear illustration of what a true leader should be. He leads by example; he faces tough decisions head-on and works to build a consensus toward an agreeable solution.   His motivation and guiding influence have touched not only those of us fortunate enough to work with him at Hays Med but also inspired others in the community, state, nation and beyond. 

Advancing the Profession through Performance

Montgomery brought the CQVA (Clinical Quality/Value Analysis) process to Hays Med and he served on the CQVA Steering Committee until his retirement. This oversight group manages smaller sub-groups whose job is to research hospital supplies the organization uses and provide recommendations on purchasing new products that could give the organization better quality at a lower reasonable price. The CQVA process has proven to be very effective at Hays Med because it draws all key areas into the procurement process by giving them ownership in Value Analysis. Departments have significantly cut the cost of supplies in virtually all areas and regularly exceed savings goals by more than 20 percent.    
In 2009 Montgomery and administrators from seven other VHA member health organizations formed Mid-America Service Solutions LLC. MSS is a single, unified entity that provides contracting, distribution and other consolidated services for its members. With more than 120 members, MSS drives value and efficiency across the supply chain. Montgomery was the MSS Operations Committee first chairperson and has been a member of that committee since the organization began. The Operations Committee is the driving force behind contracts (supplies and services), commodity, clinical preference and physician preference initiatives. The ability to negotiate prices through a larger entity, such as MSS has significantly decreased Hays Med and MSS owners and members supply costs by 10 percent annually. Montgomery also pushed the group to pursue physician preference initiatives in cardiology, orthopedics and spine along with purchased services in many areas. These initiatives that he spearheaded continue to bring value to MSS owners and members. They also opened up lines of communication between supply chain leaders and areas that haven’t been considered for savings in the past.

In 2012 Hays Med hired the Huron Group to come to the facility and look at potential savings opportunities. Huron representatives studied its processes and made recommendations on how to lower costs. Montgomery led the non-labor piece of this endeavor.  In this role, he took suggestions Huron made and strategically enhanced them for the Hays organization, which led to many cost savings initiatives in areas it hadn’t previously considered including utilization of supplies and services. 

Montgomery is a charter member of the Kansas Association of Healthcare Resource Materials Management. He and his peers formed KAHRMM in 1979 to assure healthcare materials management staff members from around our state have reasonable and affordable access to education to help them reach their personal and professional goals as well as assist them in performing their daily tasks.

C-suite credibility

Montgomery’s position as Vice President, Support Services, put him on the same level as Hays Med’s administrative team and allowed him ready access to the C-Suite. It gave him the avenue needed to illustrate how sound purchasing policies and practices not only helped patients but how they ultimately ensured the continued success of Hays Med. His years of experience gave him the knowledge he needed in order to convey cost reduction concepts to those in the C-suite in ways that make it easy for them to understand. He also helped them realize our goals for driving down the cost of supplies. Getting the right product at the right time for the right price was Montgomery’s ultimate objective.

Montgomery’s extensive product knowledge and solid grasp of supply chain enabled him to be a strong voice in leading physician preference initiatives locally and within Mid-America Service Solutions. His common sense approach and persuasive manner effectively allowed us to streamline Hays Med’s PPI inventory.

He continually looked ahead at how technology and automation can enhance supply chain activities. He then pushed to make those changes within his hospital, and he encouraged education on these subjects within the state organization KAHRMM. He also brought RFID into the hospital and encouraged affiliated facilities to do the same.

Mentoring mainstream

Montgomery emphasized employee advocacy.  He didn’t operate under the “saving your knowledge means job security” idea. In fact, he was a firm believer in promoting employee education and growth.  He always was willing to share everything he knew and learned in an effort to make each employee the best they could be. He has lead many roundtable discussions during KAHRMM education sessions, and he made himself available to new supply chain associates to help guide them in their newly acquired duties.

Montgomery encouraged staff to join professional organizations and was eager to share his thoughts on what the group could do not only for the associate but also what the associate could bring to the organization. He continually told staff they wouldn’t grow by simply working within the confines of the hospital’s four walls, but they could grow by taking active roles in professional organizations in their individual areas of expertise. He recognized talents in people that they didn’t always see in themselves.  He made sure that as new mid-level supply chain associates were hired, they were actively involved in AHRMM and KAHRMM along with the educational opportunities offered by Hays Med’s GPO. 

Mentorship was the fiber that made Montgomery. He never hesitated to guide those who came to him for information, whether from within the hospital or outside of the hospital. He used discussion to accomplish this that allowed the person seeking an answer to reach the right conclusion on their own. 

Financial fidelity

Montgomery continually explored potential initiatives the facility could undertake to drive excess costs out of healthcare. His first concern was providing quality patient care. He then concentrated on the return on investment for Hays Med on any initiative they undertook. He began by looking at financial value based on price and then he looked at clinical value based on outcomes. Then he followed up with a utilization analysis of the product to verify the financial value.

Montgomery insisted there was no area of a facility that was “off limits” when looking for cost reduction or increased value. He actively looked at all product categories for savings, commodity, clinical preference, physician preference and purchased services.  Once a decision was made, he emphasized continued compliance with a cost-reduction initiative. His leadership and guidance helped associates understand that compliance with these initiatives allows them to serve patients better and ultimately benefitted the facility’s bottom line. 

He emphasized sound processes in whatever they did. From the ordering process to the delivery process and everything in between, Montgomery was a proponent of developing and repeatedly adhering to established processes. This constant push for process “perfection” was instrumental in the hospital attaining certification as an ISO 9001 hospital. Current quality measures that Montgomery oversaw were cutting waste by establishing accurate PAR levels in all sub-inventories, and tracking waste in crash carts in order to trim unnecessary supplies. 

Montgomery expected his directors and managers to take an active role in controlling expenses for the hospital. He reinforced this message regularly whenever his team leaders were together. He stressed adherence to hospital policies and encouraged direct involvement of managers. Realizing what the ISO 9001 designation meant to the hospital, Montgomery got his areas involved in the adoption of new procedures and the writing of new policies.    

As Vice President, Support Services, Montgomery was in a unique position to influence many different departments and areas. Many times he was able to replicate savings in one department that had proven successful in another area. This applied to more than just supply chain; it also included the area of Purchased Services. 

Montgomery’s efforts on the CQVA Steering Committee caused CQVA subcommittees to actively review their processes and practices and help them identify areas of improvement on their own. This gave clinicians ownership in the improvement process and subsequent cost-saving strategies generated by their reviews.

Montgomery led the push for evidence-based value analysis at Hays Med. His direction on this issue was well received by our nursing managers due to his clear understanding and passion for doing things right when it comes to product selection.

He was a respected member of the Operations Committee of Mid-America Service Solutions LLC. In this role he worked with Supply Chain leaders from seven other hospitals and/or systems in deciding short-term and long-term initiatives for the company to undertake. The continued financial success of MSS is due to his ability to collaborate with this diverse group of individuals.

He was responsible for planning and execution of all construction projects at the hospital. He considered current patient populations and looked at future patient population estimates before deciding on the types and sizes of rooms that were included in any new construction project.

Montgomery also was a strategic planner for the state organization, the Kansas Association for Healthcare Resource and Materials Management. Every year, he helped the president of KAHRMM put together the appropriate programs to ensure success. With his assistance and leadership KAHRMM received the AHRMM “Gold” Chapter Recognition Award for five consecutive years and the Diamond Chapter Recognition Award for the past two years.

Montgomery was a driving force in inventory management of the operating room. He worked closely with nursing staff to assure them they could trust the processes. This in turn led to Materials Management managing other high-dollar inventories, such as Cath Lab and Imaging.

His ambition was to grow the Materials Management department, and he set a goal to take on new responsibilities approximately every two years. He typically something that meshed well with Materials Management, and then he demonstrated how his people could perform the task even better. 

Montgomery stressed that they always needed to be mindful of how product selection and price savings efforts affected reimbursement. He worked closely with his peers in the C-suite to verify each decision was sound from both a clinical and from a monetary standpoint. He reminded his team that in the present climate of decreasing reimbursements they needed to be aware of how buying decisions affect the bottom line.

He earned the respect of clinicians in the hospital because they repeatedly saw he was there for the patients. They recognized that they must all look for ways to drive costs out of healthcare, and thanks to Montgomery’s repeated message, the majority of the clinicians knew and understood they needed to find the balance between quality and value in every purchase.

Work Experience

1966                Was hired as an orderly at Hadley Regional Medical Center
1968                Transferred to the Physical Therapy Department at Hadley Regional Medical Center
1972                Transferred to the Purchasing Department at Hadley Regional Medical Center
1980                Was promoted to Director of Materials Management Hadley Regional Medical Center
1991                Became Director of Materials Management over the consolidated Hadley Regional Medical Center and St. Anthony Hospital Materials Management departments 
1993                Promoted to Vice President of Support Services

Educational Overview

1966                Graduate Hays High School, Hays, KS
1966 – 1968    Fort Hays State University, Hays, KS 
1973                Certificate in Inventory Control, University of Kansas 
1975                Completed one year at Catholic Hospital University, St. Louis, MO – Specialty Hospital Purchasing 
1990                Associate Degree in Administration and Management, Columbia Pacific – Specialty Healthcare Purchasing

Professional Memberships/Humanitarian Activities
Speaking Engagements

In His Own Words…

What do you think about Bellwether League Inc.’s mission and philosophy and how do you feel about becoming an Honoree?

I find the Bellwether League’s mission and philosophy of recognizing excellence in our profession as honorable and support this and applaud this.

I cannot express how surprised I was to hear I would be honored by this group as I feel my career gave me everything I wanted in a profession and a career and that in itself was honor enough. To be recognized by your peers with this honor is something I will cherish for the rest of my life as an honor earned not just by me but by my all of my team at Hays Medical Center.

What attracted and motivated you to join the healthcare supply chain management field when you did?

Honestly, I viewed this as an opportunity to move upward in administration while driving value for the medical center. I recognized the opportunity to make a difference while having the opportunity to network with leaders throughout the United States to drive cost out of the healthcare system. It involved career growth opportunity and the idea of developing a supply chain department from scratch.

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

My 48 years of leadership at the local, state and national levels.

If you were to encourage people – either outside of healthcare or just out of school – to enter healthcare supply chain management and strive to be a future Bellwether League Inc. Honoree, what would you tell them?

I would tell them Supply Chain Management is the most demanding and rewarding profession in healthcare. I would tell them to step outside themselves and become involved so they can help drive change rather than just accepting it. I would tell them to be advocates for CQO [cost, quality and outcomes] at the local, state and national levels and to network with their peers at every opportunity so they can continue to learn and grow. Never say no to a challenge as that is what will make you great.

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

Universal access to affordable high-quality healthcare for all.

How important is effective and innovative supply chain management during tough economic times?

Every dollar saved goes directly to the bottom line. Tough times are the times to rethink strategy and find a way to continue to grow. Tough times equal real problems for some and growth opportunity for others. Make sure your business is in the latter category.

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

The ability to develop trust within your sphere of influence that allows you to drive value with quality for an organization and expand that level of influence.