Vice presidents of Henry Schein provide a Q&A session. Left to right: Ty Ford, Stephanie Shen, and Sanchia Patrick, with HIDA moderator Meagan Roloff.

November 2022 | From HIDA's Healthcare Distribution & Supply Chain™ magazine

HIDA convened not one but two summits — on Supplier Diversity and Independent Distributors. The Supplier Diversity Summit brought together diverse suppliers with trading partners to discuss their common challenges and identify opportunities for growth. At the Independent Distributors Summit, attendees shared workforce development strategies to bring new employees into our industry.

At panels on sustainability, sourcing strategies, clinical integration, and supply chain efficiency, participants were able to gain insights on the latest trends impacting customers in our industry. Attendees heard directly from key experts as speakers and panelists, and posed questions of their own. Company-specific Q&A Sessions highlighted various HIDA members with session providing a unique opportunity for manufacturers to ask distributor executives specific questions.

Meanwhile, the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency was converted into a giant exhibit hall, with displays from exhibitors across the entire spectrum of the health distribution industry. The Manufacturer Expo & Lounge connected manufacturers and service providers. The Distributor Reverse Expo & Lounge let attendees network with distributors from all markets. And the GPO & IDN Reverse Expo & Lounge offered meetings with group purchasing organizations and integrated delivery networks executives.

Members: Check out all the featured images from Chicago in the full magazine issue.

10 Great Insights From The 2022 Streamlining Healthcare Expo
  1. It’s Great To Be Back In Person: After three years of work from home, it was a welcome change of pace to hold our expo in person. Relationships were renewed, new networking contacts were made, and our industry reconvened for fun and fellowship.
  2. Supplier Diversity: A strong supplier diversity program allows healthcare systems to promote wealth in the communities they serve, which ultimately supports improves health equity. That was the conclusion of HIDA’s first-ever Supplier Diversity Summit of providers, distributors and GPOs.
  3. Workforce Development: Approximately 36% of Millennials and 53% of those from Generation Z say they plan to leave their current employers within two years.
  4. Independent Distributors: Smaller, independent distributors face a unique set of challenges when competing for talent.
  5. Warp Speed Ahead: Retired General Gus Perna, who led Operation Warp Speed under Presidents Trump and Biden, thanked the healthcare distribution industry for their strong partnership with state and federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  6. Sustainability Matters: Approximately 80% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the healthcare industry come from the supply chain. As more healthcare providers pledge to cut emissions, distributors have an opportunity to help providers with their sustainability needs.
  7. Supply Chain Surprises: Customers want greater visibility into what products they can expect and when they can expect them. Supply chain disruption makes delivery schedules less reliable and impacts product availability. Customers expect distributors to have thoroughly vetted their suppliers in order to mitigate supply chain surprises.
  8. Demand Reset: Demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) has returned to 2019 levels, after the industry produced 91.9 billion units on N95s, masks, gowns, and gloves over the last two years. Distributors are adjusting to this reset – many are holding large surpluses of product.
  9. Preparedness Progress: HIDA hosted a delegation of federal partners from the Strategic National Stockpile for a working group discussion of preparedness issues, building on the success of the Pandemic Preparedness Summit in June.
  10. Thank You: When the world changes overnight, and you only have one chance to get it right, when costs rise and supply chains stall – count on us to do it all. For every member of HIDA and HEF, thank you for delivering during COVID-19.

General Gus Perna Keynote

General Gus Perna speaks at the general session with HIDA CEO Matt Rowan

“Our purpose was clear: safe and effective vaccines as fast as you can.”

— General Gus Perna

Purpose. Priorities. People. Those were the three pillars upon which former General Gus Perna built a $26 billion program to deliver vaccines to 300 million Americans. General Gus Perna shared these insights as the keynote speaker at HIDA’s 2022 Streamlining Healthcare Expo and Business Exchange.

“Our purpose was clear: safe and effective vaccines as fast as you can,” Perna said during an hour-long conversation with HIDA CEO Matt Rowan.

Before he was named to co-lead the U.S. government’s COVID-19 response in 2020, General Perna served as head of the U.S. Army Materiel Command where he managed redistribution of critical munitions to the Pacific and fixed the Army’s housing crisis.

“I was 30 days from retirement,” recalled Perna. “I was at home in Alabama on a Saturday when the phone rang. It was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. When he calls, it’s not to tell you how great you’re doing.”

Chairman Mark Milley tasked General Perna with co-leading the federal government's COVID-19 response for vaccine and therapeutics — also known as Operation Warp Speed. “Chairman Milley told me ‘Don’t worry, Gus. All you have to do is distribute it.”

As one of the military’s most skilled and most senior logisticians, General Perna worked to build manufacturing capacity and the end-to-end supply chain needed to get vaccines distributed “at warp speed.”

“When assembling a team, I had four rules,” Perna said. “I only want the best. I won’t tolerate egos. I want problem solvers for an impossible mission. And if you can’t be a team player — get out.”

When discussing the prioritizing of resources for Operation Warp Speed, General Perna also had bipartisan praise. “I served under both President Trump and President Biden. I received 100% priority in resources under both presidents. I never had to ask for anything twice.”

Leveraging public-private partnerships, Operation Warp Speed accelerated vaccine development, manufacturing, distribution beyond what anyone thought possible. General Perna had praise for the healthcare distribution industry in his remarks.

“In the military, we know how to deliver ammo and food,” said Perna. “You are the experts in delivering medical products.”

Summit Emphasizes Intentional Approach To Supplier Diversity

HIDA convened its first-ever Supplier Diversity Summit as part of its fall Streamlining Healthcare Expo & Business Exchange. The overflow crowd heard from panelists who urged an intentional approach to sourcing from diverse suppliers.

Angie Thomas

“It’s not just a trend. Our supplier diversity program started in 1991. Recently, we have seen more language on supplier diversity from our customers. But it’s not a buzzword, it’s a priority we are going to continue to drive forward.”

Angie Thomas, Vice President of Government Accounts Manager & Enterprise Supplier Diversity, Cardinal Health

Bill Moir

“Supplier diversity is about building wealth and creating health equity in the communities we serve. Consider this: Healthcare is 18% of the GDP of the United States. That’s over $4 trillion. Total diversity spend in healthcare is estimated at $6 billion — just 0.15% of that total.”

Bill Moir, Senior Vice President for Supply Chain Management, Henry Ford Health

Joe Machicote

“Being a GPO, it has become time for supplier diversity to be viewed as a strategic business initiative rather than a program. It is how we go about creating socio-economic impact for a lot of the communities we serve. It is a mindset that organizations need to do a better job adopting.”

Joe Machicote, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Premier

Supplier diversity promotes innovation, identifies new sources of talent and rewards experience. It encourages competition, which improves product quality and drives down costs. Healthcare providers should represent the communities that they serve, with employees and suppliers drawn from the population at large.

“The key to a strong supplier diversity program is having buy-in from your organization’s C-suite and leadership ranks. Once this becomes an organizational priority then having dedicated resources to lead the program and developing a strategy to identify, engage, and award to diverse suppliers are key next steps in your supplier diversity journey.”

— Bill Moir

Distributors have a role to play in supplier diversity, by helping providers meet their goals. Distributors can create their own supplier diversity programs and assist providers in identifying qualified and certified diverse suppliers.

  • Build A Network
    Distributors should partner with a minority company to assist in the creation of a first-class program.
  • Measure It & Manage It
    Create and manage a monthly MBE spending report for customers.
  • Don’t Wait To Be Asked
    Be proactive by presenting diverse suppliers to your provider customers. Provide a list of MBEs and the products that they distribute.
  • Be Inquisitive
    Ask providers questions to gauge their supplier diversity needs. Does the provider have Supplier Diversity goals and initiatives? What is the dollar goal of the provider? Where is the desired need for spend — on services, products, etc?

Independent Distributors Gain Secret Weapons In The “War For Talent”

On the first day of Streamlining, independent distributors from the medical supply chain met for HIDA’s Independent Distributors Summit. HIDA defines independent distributors as those companies with 50 employees or less. The Independent Distributors Summit provides an opportunity for owners and leaders from smaller distribution companies to share ideas and learn from each other.

At the Summit, independent distributors heard from Susie Japs, Managing Director at Wejungo Corporation. Susie’s thoughtful, interactive presentation, “Myths Busted & Tips Revealed In The War For Talent,” focused on such talent acquisition skills as attracting job applicants, recruiting, interviewing & retention.

Myth: “There Are No Candidates Out There.”
Consider: A typical job attracts 100 resumes, out of which five people are chosen to interview and one who will get the job. That means 95% of applicants were considered unqualified. Why are companies getting unqualified candidates? Some of it has to do with limiting your company to a shallow field of applicants who are more likely to appear unqualified. When companies are not intentional about the places they advertise for jobs, it should come as no surprise if they are unimpressed with the resumes they attract.

Myth: “First Impressions Matter.”
Consider: The phrase “first impressions” is just another way of describing what social scientists call “anchoring bias” — the tendency of people to be influenced by the first piece of information they hear. A bad interview process does nothing to filter out such biases.

“You can’t recruit someone you haven’t found. Sourcing and finding working professionals are the first steps to attracting great talent. Different jobs are drawn from different talent pools — don’t rely on a one-size-fits-all approach.”

— Susie Japs, Wejungo

5 Tips To Independent Distributors To Improve Their Search For Talent
  1. Customize Your Sourcing Strategy. You can’t recruit someone you haven’t found. Sourcing and finding working professionals are the first steps to attracting great talent. Different jobs are drawn from different talent pools -— don’t rely on a one-size-fits-all approach.
  2. Offer An Opportunity, Not A Job. Prospective employees ask WIIFM — What’s in it for me? Appeal to the needs and ambitions of prospective applicants.
  3. Throw Out The Resume. Don’t let the resume guide the interview. Plenty of applicants will meet the job requirements in your listing. Focus on candidates who can DO the best job, not just those that HAVE the requisite credentials.
  4. Stop Bias. Admit that biases exist. In an interview, counter-balance your questions to your perceptions. If you like a candidate — deliberately ask them a more difficult question. If you have a negative perception, try an easier question and see if your perception improves.
  5. Not All Employees Are Created Equal. Bill Gates once said “The worst thing about average performers is that they are taking up space that could be occupied by someone phenomenal.” Average applicants lead to average employees. Seek out those that have the potential to be phenomenal.