Study Shows: Decision Makers in Hospitals Focus on Digitalization – and Disregard Ecology and Ethics

Against the background of the loss-making situation of hospitals, every business area is being evaluated for cost-saving potentials. While the possibilities for cost-saving is very limited regarding personnel, the increasing digitalization and au-tomatization of processes in logistics and purchasing make further cost reductions possible.

Wegweiser GmbH Berlin Research & Strategy in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Dr. von Eiff, Academic Director of the Ludwig Fresenius Center for Health Care Management and Regulation at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, took a closer look at this challenge of strategic supply management. Five topics were identified for the study „Monitoring IT, Purchasing & Logistics 2017“: strategy and organization, logistics, risk management, controlling, and IT-support of the supply management.

Top: digitalization and automatization. Flop: ecology and ethics

Asked about focal points and topics that will be important to their hospitals in the coming years, the persons responsible agree on the standardization of the product portfolio (92 percent), demand bundling (90 percent), the application of scientific standards and better cooperation with suppliers (85 percent each) to be indispensable. Ecological and ethical aspects, on the other hand, are irrelevant for 80 percent of the respondents.

Digitalized and partly or completely automatized processes are necessary to reach the goals. In the areas of ordering/EDI (80 percent), requirements of the consumer/user (68 percent), approval workflow (62.9 percent), or release of in-voices (52 percent), for example, much has already been reorganized. There is, however, still considerable potential in other fields. For example, over 38 per-cent of the respondents said they do not even plan on using electronic calls for proposals yet, although this is a central component of an efficient, digital work-flow.

The price is important – but not the only deciding factor

As expected, pricing is the most important indicator for purchasing for three quarters of the respondents. However, the relation to quality, patient outcome and risk (59.5 percent), as well as the relation to application, functionality and performance characteristics (54.1 percent), and the effect of processes regarding time and resource savings (48.7 percent) also play a major role. Price plus quality is, therefore, the deciding purchase criteria. In addition to the costs for the acquisition itself (54.1 percent), the lifetime cycle (51.4 percent) and process costs (46 percent) also play an important role.

Besides a consistent strategy to reduce prices (54 percent), the respondents also increasingly look into additional possibilities to reduce costs in purchasing: re-conditioning and repairs grow in importance, even if slowly.

A total of 49 institutions (charitable, public, private-law as well as private) took part in the study. The survey, which was explorative and descriptive, and not rep-resentative, was complemented by 27 interviews with decision makers from the purchasing department of the hospitals. Therefore, the survey results could be further analyzed, and systematic conclusions could be drawn regarding decision-making behavior. The study, which is meant to be a basis for discussion, focused on hospitals in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Prof. Dr. Dr. von Eiff is presenting the study „Monitoring IT – Purchasing & Logistics 2017“ in the framework of the 8. Beschaffungskongress der Krankenhäuser 2016 (8th Supply Congress of Hospitals 2016) in Berlin on December 8/9, 2016.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Wilfried von Eiff

Prof. von Eiff serves as Academic Director of the Ludwig Fresenius Center for Health Care Management and Regulation of HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management. In addition, he holds an extraordinary professorship for Health Care Management here and is therefore integrated into the academic group of Economics and Regulation. He has also been the head of the Centre for Hospital Management at the University of Münster since 1994. Amongst others, his work focuses on purchasing and logistics management, mergers and acquisitions, quality and risk management, medical controlling as well as benchmarking. Prof. von Eiff acts as a Health Economics Consultant for the International Institute for Health Economics. At HHL, Prof. von Eiff is, amongst others, involved in teaching through the part-time MBA in General Management Program with a focus on Hospital Management and Health Services.

HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management is a university-level institution and ranks amongst the leading international business schools. The goal of the most venerable business school in German-speaking Europe is to educate effective, responsible and entrepreneurially minded leaders. HHL stands out for its excellent teaching, its clear research focus, its effective knowledge transfer into practice as well as its outstanding student services. The courses of study include full and part-time Master in Management as well as MBA programs, a Doctoral program and Executive Education. HHL is accredited by AACSB International.

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