Gary L. Wagner
Healthcare/Supply Chain Management Experience:
Gary Wagner dedicated 43 years of his career to healthcare supply chain management with a plan to retire in late 2017.
Hall of Fame-worthy accomplishments:
- In the 1970s, Gary partnered with Baxter to be a beta site for their 10/20 inventory replenishment system – helping them develop the product for replenishment. It was their work together that advanced the concept of automated ordering.
- In the early 1980s, desk top delivers for office supplies was a yet to be an established process. Gary developed desktop deliveries for forms and office supplies system wide for the Richmond VA region of Bon Secours – at that time a four-hospital system with 150 locations. He worked with two different companies to affect this process combining forms and office supplies as well as automating the paperwork for accuracy and cost reduction across the system (early EDI).
- In the early 1990s, he consolidated Outpatient OR and Inpatient OR Departments to function as one integrated department. The Operating Room function reported directly to Gary which was uncommon then as it is now. As the lead Supply Chain person he not only had the opportunity to streamline the OR functions, but also to incorporate the first heart program at the organization. Pharmacy reported to him, too.
- Again in the early 1990s, he created the concept at Bon Secours to have specialty Orthopedic ORs that allowed physicians to complete up to five total joints per physician – he worked closely with surgeons to then expand the concept to other Bon Secours hospitals.
- He led an initiative in partnership with General Medical to create the first OR case picking process by a third party in US. This process later became known as the SurgiTrack system at Owens & Minor. He pioneered the idea of picking all items for a particular case by surgeon – done at the distributor – and delivered to the surgical suite for the case. In turn, excess supplies were returned to the distributor. This process eliminated waste, reduced inventory, and most importantly keep preferences accurate by surgeon.
- Within last eight years while at Methodist of Houston, Gary let the cost reduction and cost avoidance initiative that exceeded over 100 million in savings. It consisted of putting into place standards and processes that had not previously been tried. He converted his organization from one that was dysfunctional in terms of supply chain to one that is highly efficient and driven by clinical staff to reduce costs on a go forward basis.
- 1970s Collaboration with Baxter on automated ordering – industry as a whole benefited as these early adopters used auto replenishment to cut cost, reduce waste, and assure timely deliveries.
- 1980s Desktop delivery processes – Certainly became a standard in the industry for things like office supplies and forms – these early adopters paved the way for others to also reduce inventories and speed replenishment. He did this in a multi-hospital system very early on, which benefited his organization first and then the supply chain industry.
- 1990s OR supply chain consolidation between inpatient and outpatient functions – one of the early OR functions reporting to supply chain benefiting the industry as a whole..
- OR case carts and creation of supply totes for surgical procedures – benefiting the industry in thinking about a different way of delivering supplies to the OR for a single case – which helped clinical staff and surgeons with accuracy and speed of room turnover.
- Incorporating clinical staff into the cost reduction process benefited everyone – hospital, profession, and industry. While many have attempted to do this, his organization perfected it to achieve such a high level of success.
Commitment to ethical standards, honesty and integrity:
I (nominator John Gaida) have known this individual for over 25 years and can certainly vouch for his high level of honesty and integrity! He is someone that has personified a solid career in multiple organizations leaving each of them much better than when he arrived. He has a great reputation in the field and has held a number of positions in professional organizations locally and nationally attesting to his dedication to the profession and those he has mentored along the way.
Commitment to mentoring, education, and/or advocacy:
- From 1990 to 1995 Gary had the idea to become a teacher within his organization. He instructed management classes for all management for Bon Secours Health System Richmond Division – educating staff at all levels on the value of supply chain on the well-being of an organization – not just to save money, but to improve patient care.
- Many of Gary’s direct reports have achieved positions of distinction at other healthcare systems. Some have attained the title of Vice President, Director, or other leadership positions in recognized healthcare systems around the country.
- Currently, he is mentoring a Director-level position for a future Vice President position.
Demonstrations of leadership:
- Currently, at Methodist Houston Gary has led the expansion process for supply chain that includes the creation of five freestanding ERs, acquisition of two Christus hospitals, expansion plans to add new hospital at Houston Methodist, as well as the replacement of the existing Methodist Medical Center with more than 1,000 beds.
- He is also currently developing a plan to create a new service center for Houston Methodist to replace the existing distribution center. This is a major undertaking that was built on the trust given him by senior leadership.
Degree of professional influence:
Gary has contributed at a high level to the profession by his individual accomplishments at the organizations where he has worked, the professional organizations he has participated in, and those individuals which he has mentored. He partnered with numerous vendors to improve supply chain and the way it was delivered – helping create state of the art systems and improving upon new ideas. Gary “partnered” with others at a time when it was not in vogue to do so. Improving the profession, those you work with, and those you serve is what the Bellwether award is all about. Gary has successfully done that over his long career. He was instrumental in helping start the Network of Networks organization that led to the formation of Strategic Marketplace Initiative. He also has contributed greatly to a number of AHRMM local chapters in the areas where he has worked.
Application of Hall of Fame-level of knowledge and experience:
Gary has demonstrated a “hall of fame” level of knowledge in almost every area of supply chain activity. He has worked with key departments like the OR to develop new systems of supply delivery. He adopted just in time processes for supply deliver at a time when they were revolutionary. He helped his distributors create systems to supply the OR with needed supplies in a revolutionary manner. And lastly, he took major cost out of his current employer in excess of $100 million.
Bellwether League has inducted many notable and accomplished individuals over the years. Gary Wagner is an individual who has contributed to the growth and professionalism of the supply chain profession. Bellwether League would be remiss if it did not acknowledge this individual for his solid 43 years of work to improve his organizations, his professional relationships, and those he has mentored along the way.
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 am privileged to be recognized by Bellwether League, a very honorable association. With those honored over the past nine years, I am joining an elite group of men and women who have led healthcare supply chain into the 21st century!
What attracted and motivated you to join the healthcare supply chain management field when you did?
In the early 1970s, I attended college at night while working in housekeeping in a small hospital in Ohio. Two years later, I became their Director of Purchasing and enjoyed helping people. After completing a two-year degree in Electrical Engineering, I changed my major to Business Administration and since 1972, I have been devoted to healthcare supply chain. It has been most enjoyable and quire rewarding on a daily basis!
For what one contribution would you like to be most remembered?
Partnerships and relationships built throughout the industry have been my cornerstone of success.
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 advise others that healthcare is the most rewarding career financially and professionally. It allows one to work with industry leaders on both sides of the table; great physicians, hospital administration, and government officials interested in improving healthcare. Healthcare today is at a pivotal point.
What is the one industry challenge you would like to see solved during your lifetime?
What a joy it would be to see Invoicing and payment process taken to the next level to allow for reduced costs on both sides and improve payment flexibility in supply chain and vendor community.
How important is effective and innovative supply chain management during tough economic times?
With thin margins healthcare systems rely on, it could make – or – break a healthcare system.
In two sentences or less, what defines healthcare supply chain leadership?
Such a leader has knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience to confidently establish partnerships that eagerly work toward common goals within and outside the organization.
If you traveled back in time to when you just started in healthcare what would you tell yourself?
Knowing what I know today, I would be amazed at our electronic capabilities and changes in our reimbursement, our ability to partner with physicians, and how interesting and challenging this role has become.