In 1999 Raymond Seigfried challenged the material management profession with his article, "Declaration of Interdependence," which was featured as the front page story in Materials Management in Health Care. This article described how his work brought the new concepts of system thinking into his material management program.
Seigfried initiated and led a diverse team (nursing and seven support services) called System Service Improvement Team that achieved a 12 percent increase in overall quality performance, a statistically significant improvement, through the use of system theory, a contemporary management theory. This was the first time materials management was integrated with clinical service performance as one whole team approach. It was featured by the Healthcare Advisory Board in their Academy Fellowship program as a "Cultural Catalyst" for his work in applying system theory as a way of improving working culture and is still used in their leadership class in 2012.
As an ethical, innovative thinker who exemplifies the very definition of bellwether, Ray Seigfried has integrated materials management together with clinical services and applied supply chain strategies in the clinical departments with great success. One example of his ethics and integrity is when he was confronted as School Board Chairman with a very popular employee who committed an unethical act in the school. Confronting a contentious public, he led the Board to resolve the issue.
While his scope of responsibility has expanded beyond the supply chain and as a member of the C-Suite, he has been consistently involved in redesigning and improving the healthcare supply chain at Christiana Care. He is currently working on a new project to link Christiana Care with its distributor and manufactures in what he calls a “Supply System” that he believes will demonstrate a transformation of the current supply chain. His involvement with education speaks to his belief to challenge students in the educational process and share his thoughts and ideas.
What do you think about Bellwether League Inc.’s mission and philosophy and how do you feel about becoming an Honoree?
The Bellwether League provides a special space for leaders in the profession of healthcare materials management who are pioneers, innovators and scholars and have contributed to the advancement of this profession. It equally presents members who identify trends in our industry and design new models that will shape what we do in the future. It is important to recognize this type of leadership because they provide positive feedback to the profession for continued progress.
As for my personal recognition I am sincerely appreciative to be part of the 2012 class and to join a list of pioneers, innovators and scholars who have all made significant contributions to our profession.
What attracted and motivated you to join the healthcare supply chain management field when you did?
In all honesty I did not seek out this profession but when I was given the opportunity I quickly stepped up to the challenge. I learned from the books and articles of many Bellwether members. This helped me to progress and then contribute in my own right. It did not take long to realize that the significant contributions we make can only be made through collaboration with leaders of the clinical staff. For me it has always been the relationship between our profession with our special knowledge and competence together with the skill and competence of clinical staff, which results in the most powerful results that bring true patient value. This has been my guiding philosophy.
For what one contribution would you like to be most remembered?
I believe there are three important contributions that I have made to our profession:
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?
Working in a healthcare organization is a true profession, not just a job, and therefore takes real commitment. Hospitals are like universities in that you get to work with some of the brightest people in the world. So, first a person working in our industry must want to work with very, very intelligent people and be able to communicate with and have a common understanding of a diverse range of clinical professions. Second, there is tremendous opportunity to make a real contribution, but in collaboration with others. Our job is not to just reduce cost but to provide value material resource for our patients.
As for the quality of individual needed for this position I would recommend the following: Always strive to go beyond, be forever the student and learn all you can, do not be afraid to stand alone, always understand your action to be interdependent, have the compassion to serve those in need, and remember that you will be judged by the integrity of your action.
What is the one industry challenge you would like to see solved in your lifetime?
For many decades the supply-chain model has served us as a way of defining the work that we do. Now as we enter healthcare reform I believe we need a more holistic model. MIT Professor Jay Forrester saw this back in 1958 and published an article in Harvard Business Review, titled “Industrial Dynamics – A Major Breakthrough for Decision Makers.” It describes the fundamental structural defects in the supply chain model and recommended a systems view. A systems view transforms this model by having leaders think on a more holistic level of the supply lifecycle and the relationship between each member. More recent leaders like Jonathan Byrnes, also from MIT, and David Demers, president of Avicon Group Inc., and a consultant to Apple, are both of a similar mind.
Since healthcare reform is here to stay there is no better time but now to both understand the limitation of the supply chain model and begin to explore the new model called “supply network.” About 10 years ago the electronics and computer industry made this change. I know we can as well.
How important is effective and innovative supply chain management during tough economic times?
Regardless of good or tough economic times the reality is that there will always be scarce resources to support healthcare, and materials management can play a very important role in the creation of true value.
In two sentences or less, what defines healthcare supply chain leadership?
As always, leadership is determined by one’s sense of “followship.” It is the relationship between [people] that gives rise to both concepts. In our profession leadership is about understanding the clinical process, identifying your responsibility/contribution in this process and facilitating your work with clinical staff to create material value.