Central Ontario supply chain management initiative is on target

An integration activity endorsed by the Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), two other LHINs and participating hospitals is on target and progressing well, according to Bill Whittaker, chair of the board of directors for the Central Ontario Healthcare Procurement Alliance (COHPA).
“There’s a good spirit of co-operation here and I think if that continues we’ll be very successful,” says Whittaker, vice-president of York Central Hospital.
COHPA is a not-for-profit, non-share-capital, free-standing corporation, formed voluntarily by six founding member hospitals: Markham Stouffvile Hospital, Southlake Regional Health Centre, and York Central Hospital in Central LHIN; Peterborough Regional Health Centre and Ross Memorial Hospital in Central East LHIN; and Royal Victoria Hospital in North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN.
Incorporated as a not-for-profit in April, 2008, the Alliance is five months into a 24-month period to implement an integrated supply-chain management system.
“We are building a back-office support infrastructure and at the end of our transformation we will provide strategic sourcing, purchasing, logistics, and accounts payable functions for our member hospitals,” explains Brad Sinclair, COHPA’s general manager.
Through integrated supply-chain management, COHPA will be able to leverage the combined purchasing power of the partner organizations, resulting in cost savings that can be reinvested based on local priorities for patient care.
Whittaker notes that the initiative’s progress to date can be observed on several fronts.
“These six hospitals have been working in a collaborative way for some time and we’re building on that very productive working relationship in a more formal way,” he says.
“As well, (while) we’re building a support service organization and all that goes around that, we still continue to work together, procure things together, and generate savings for the six hospitals, which I’m pleased about.”
Implementation objectives for the plan, including building the leadership and management teams, developing policies and procedures, and putting into operation the information technology required to support the procurement functions are also all on schedule, according to Whittaker.
The target date for COHPA to begin providing services to member hospitals is March, 2009.
Whittaker says the project presents challenges because it is a change management initiative. Recognizing that procedures operating inside an individual organization may be changed, and shifting one’s perception to consider the bigger picture are important.
“As I keep telling the board, we’re redefining the ‘we.’ We’re not just working for our own organization but we’re working for the group of us now,” says Whittaker.
COHPA is consistent with a program sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Finance under the name OntarioBuys. The program was launched in the 2004 Ontario Budget to facilitate and accelerate the widespread adoption of integrated supply-chain management leading practices in Ontario’s broader public sector.
For more information about COHPA, visit www.cohpa.ca.

Reposted with permission from the Central LHIN website