Securing a healthy supply chain

Securing a healthy supply chain

JLL’s presence in the healthcare sector may still be relatively new, but Steve Sawyer, Vice President for JLL’s Healthcare Supply Chain Management and Procurement services group, has been working hard behind the scenes to leverage 19 years of healthcare expertise in building a supply chain platform unrivalled in the industry. Sawyer joined JLL in 2015, and over the past two years has transformed the way JLL services healthcare clients.

“The healthcare industry over the last five years has significantly changed,” he says. “Healthcare in the US has recognized they need help in non-medical service areas. The industry is starving for one or a few integrated facilities solutions whereby a single company provides real estate and transaction management; the ability to manage facility and energy operations; construction; medical move transition management and capital planning; regulatory compliance; sustainability; supply chain management; and procurement platform services. JLL brings these integrated solutions into healthcare. In addition, the industry seeks new business contracting practices and supply chain innovations, which transform the old-to-new supplier base in hard, soft and purchased service areas.”

According to Sawyer, the big difference in his department today compared to prior years is that his team is improving supply chain talent, expertise, and confidence. Hiring the right people who understand supply chain, strategy and industries has been his focus. “When a competitor in real estate or supplies shares feedback or want to know more about JLL’s engagement in healthcare, we know we have created market disruption and made a difference to catch the attention of others,” he explains. “Client confidence appears to be growing too, as our team has been asked to take on more contract scope work in medical contracting areas. We feel when a client asks JLL supply chain to review larger scope opportunities that we have gained their trust and confidence in showing savings and overall value.”

The JLL healthcare business continues to expand due to new organic growth and healthcare company acquisitions. As its reach expands, the healthcare supply chain team must work smarter, harder, and deliver faster custom facility contracting service solutions. “That’s one thing our competitors – even our clients – do not always have the ability to do,” Sawyer explains. “We are expected to provide tailored contracts meeting current and new facility infrastructure operational and capital needs.”

Aside from delivering custom contracting solutions, JLL healthcare supply chain value focuses on openness, honesty, integrity, ethical practices and transparency. How does the company prove it? The supply chain team has publically released information on its operations to secure trust, publishing several whitepapers with subjects ranging from cost saving success stories, to testimonials, to factoids regarding biomedical technologies that are not typically public knowledge. Sawyer states: “Creating, building and sharing best practices supports our focus and values necessary to strengthen our supply chain professionalism.”

Sustainability is another passion his team has focused and written whitepapers on, including ways to handle and dispose of medical and non-medical waste streams in a cost-effective way.  Sawyer explains: “We spent a great deal of time fixing cost structures, discovering gaps in technologies, capturing waste streams, and sharing our story pre and post-solutioning. Suppliers have taken notice too. Water treatment is another sustainability area my team has focused on, and drives cost savings while reducing client and patient risk as it relates to water quality and reduce water consumption.”

When asked how Sawyer ensures how his supply chain staff support the JLL healthcare brand, he is quick to emphasize the importance of that last word – ‘brand’. According to Sawyer, the supply chain brand did not exist in prior years, and creating it was his primary focus upon coming on board as a new hire to JLL. Furthermore, he focused on the internal talent each member of his team contributed.

“I wanted to create a supply chain presence that encapsulated our methodology or cadence. A branded solution that was repeatable, trainable, and measurable.” In addition, he wanted a brand his team could refer to supporting their strategic and tactical assignments; a brand inclusive of a ‘toolbox’ containing comprehensive documents, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint templates, and industry KPI milestones necessary to drive and track an account supply chain approach and related contract savings.

To begin training new hires, Sawyer starts by showing several healthcare images. The images include the following: an infant, middle-aged person, elderly person, cleaning a hospital area, mechanical image, a surgeon embracing technology, and an empty stretcher wheeled down a hallway. Sawyer goes on to say: “I then ask which image is the most important, and does the imagery positioning play any significant role?”

Most of the time his team selects the surgeon, cleaning, or mechanical area as the most important image. As for imagery positioning, he commonly hears his new hires say the images illustrate healthcare. According to Sawyer, “the most important image is the stretcher, because the stretcher could be you, a family member, or a friend”.

Every dollar his team and the integrated JLL service platforms solution saves is a dollar’s worth of innovation healthcare can reinvest. This results in stronger clinical technologies, enabling faster quality of patient care and improved patient outcomes. The imagery in his training test, Sawyer goes on to say, “represents the life cycle. We enter as an infant, become middle-aged and grow to become elderly, whereupon we rely on medical technology and surgeons, physicians and clinicians to care for us as patients and expect treatment in a healthy facility or work environment.” The imagery provides a purpose for his supply chain team in support of the brand.

Mentorship in his supply chain team is another focus of Sawyer’s, he explains. “Our team is virtual and supports hospital accounts across the United States. Getting to know our diverse team members and expertise begins as each member of staff is asked to complete an individual biography, and after sharing the team biographies I put into place a ‘Mentorship Program’.”

Sawyer and his leadership team assign a mentor to a mentee, also known as a ‘buddy system’.  He refers to this process as a way to extend a ‘virtual hand’ – a simple way to get to know each other.

He also makes it a point to look outside of healthcare when it comes to hiring talent, in an opposite approach to his own professional background, as Sawyer himself has 19 years solely in healthcare. When asked why, Sawyer explains: “I believe expertise comes from individuals who are trainable, eager to grow developmentally and professionally, understand strategy, and have hands-on supply change management experience. Hiring supply chain professionals with these proven characteristics can be taught with healthcare vernaculars.”

Sawyer and his team depend on technology to drive awareness, strategy, and detailed analysis to achieve successful outcomes. The analysis begins with understanding high-to-low spend per supplier per facility they service across an organization. Following the supplier categorization analysis, his team creates a master or strategic plan necessary to show all savings opportunities in a given timeframe. Spend analysis provides key KPIs and business case to confirm in-hand supplier and missing supplier contracts, while supporting current and future goods and service levels of work. As the plan matures, new discoveries and opportunities to close high-risk areas become more prevalent.
Simplifying supply chain needs as much as possible is vital to Sawyer’s team; he refers to this as Project Harmony. “Project Harmony is a coined phrase I created for my team, that simplifies all the details inclusive of process mapping to technical tools,” Sawyer explains. “The phrase embraces the A to Z repeatable ‘toolbox’ solutions necessary to support our healthcare supply chain brand.”

Sawyer goes on to say: “Trust begins with transparency, confidence and brand. As we share our solution and story with internal and external stakeholders, we believe basic requirements asked of our JLL healthcare supply chain industry has been satisfied. Our focus to be open and transparent is the stepping-stone to building trust. Frankly, this is a client demand and when we bring this value and practice into healthcare.

“We constantly reassure our value as healthcare supply chain change management experts each time we exceed competing contracts and share our successes with our client, internal JLL integrated teammates, and strategic suppliers. Competition in our industry is welcomed and healthy.”

Steve Sawyer