Clinicians at the forefront of national contracts
The pursuit of cost savings and efficiencies within Canada's healthcare system has, in part, given rise to regional contracting as a way of re-directing resources toward frontline healthcare. These are critically important efforts, particularly in light of tightening public finances and the increasing demands of an aging population.
Collaborative decision making across a region, province or the entire country can deliver meaningful financial benefit. But how do these collective efforts maintain their responsiveness to the interests of individual members? For HealthPRO, the answer lies in putting the right structures and processes in place to guarantee local and regional input, while maximizing the benefits that come with national buying power.
HealthPRO represents the purchasing interests of hospitals, provinces and shared service organizations (SSOs) across Canada. With 255 members including 12 out of 14 SSOs, HealthPRO has assembled the greatest purchasing power ever realized in Canada's public healthcare system. The organization's primary goal is to negotiate national contracts for healthcare goods and services that meet the needs of clinical end users at the best possible price for today's members.
"No one understands the products and services available under our contracts better than the professionals who use them," said Denise Shoesmith, Vice President, Materials Management at HealthPRO. "As a result, our contract award process has been designed specifically to engage a comprehensive system of expert committees comprised of clinicians from varying disciplines from across the country. Engaging frontline professionals at the outset ensures that we deliver the right products and services at the right price."
Members of HealthPRO's Clinical Advisory Committee, along with numerous sub-committees for complex products and care environments, work to validate products for national contracts for healthcare goods and services that will meet the needs of individual members.
"It is critical that clinicians have a voice in the purchasing decisions that directly affect patient care," said Shoesmith. "Committee members, supported by HealthPRO staff, are charged with evaluating clinical properties first. Only then do we review the relevant financial information. This ensures that the highest quality clinical products are considered during the contract award."
The multi-stage process begins with the planning stage 18 months prior to the contract award and involves over 50 clinicians representing a broad range of healthcare disciplines from across Canada. These teams meet twice a year to pre-qualify products for upcoming contracts. Pre-qualification involves a rigorous validation process for products that have been submitted in response to the Request for Qualification (RFQ) against in-depth criteria that are developed by the committee itself.
Pre-qualification is followed by the survey stage, in which hospitals are provided with comprehensive information about the products that have been pre-qualified by the committee. It is at this stage that members' commitments to contracts are secured.
Pre-qualified suppliers are then invited to participate in a Request for Proposal (RFP) process that will evaluate price, quality of service and other non-clinical considerations. Financial proposals, along with scorecard results, are reviewed, and a recommendation for contract award is made by the committee. The final stage involves ongoing work with clinicians and administrative teams at each facility to successfully manage the implementation and maintenance of each contract.
By participating in a national contract award process, hospitals benefit from a vast reduction in the amount of time and resources required to conduct trials individually within their organizations. The expert review by clinical end-users also serves as a forum for national clinical engagement, facilitating the sharing of intelligence and knowledge among clinicians from across Canada.
"We represent hospitals, provinces and SSOs from coast to coast to coast," said Shoesmith. "This is a tremendous strength that gives us the ability to tap into the collective knowledge and wisdom of professionals from every region of the country."