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Improving Physician Engagement During the New Product Selection Process
Supply Chain

Improving Physician Engagement During the New Product Selection Process

You’ve heard and followed the familiar adage, “consider the source.” And for good reason, since the adage reminds one to verify the trustworthiness of a source before heeding its content. Perhaps nowhere does the saying ring truer than healthcare, where lives are at stake and resources limited.

For health systems, the acquisition of a new medical device can be fraught with a lot of "noise." As a system works to evaluate the potential of a new technology, subjective factors, personal biases, and marketing hype can influence perceptions at a time when identifying trustworthy sources is critical. A lack of sound evidence can further complicate the process.

However, decisions between supply chain and clinical leaders are still possible even when evidence is not conclusive.

In fact, the value analysis process can provide opportunities to engage and educate physicians about acquisition management and the standards and evaluation criteria that will help health systems obtain products that best meet their needs and provide desired clinical outcomes.

Identify biases

A good starting point is to ask your physicians where they get their information and then discuss those sources, so they, as good stewards of institutional resources, become more aware of common biases such as:

  • Financial bias: Do they have a stake in the product or a relationship with those who would benefit financially?
  • Status in facility: Does their opinion carry more weight than the opinions of colleagues from less prestigious or less-funded departments? Are others afraid to disagree?
  • Decision maker(s): Are the right people involved? Who else should be included?
  • Communication of processes and awareness: Is there a process in place, or are decisions made in an inconsistent fashion?
  • Manufacturer white papers and brochures: Are the sources of information from the same people who are selling the products? Do white papers present full, clear, and exhaustive insight into the pros and cons of a device?
  • Context of request: Why is this request being made? Is there a real clinical need, improvement, or benefit? Or are you reacting to a sales pitch?

Once these biases have been addressed, an unbiased evaluation of the evidence is possible. This creates an opportunity to elevate physician engagement by showing decision makers the science behind each new product, and how to use that science to make better clinical and financial decisions.

Learn and communicate on the evidence level

Health systems vary in how they make decisions; some have formal processes, while others make ad-hoc decisions. Either way, the struggle is often the same: how to balance additional costs with unclear patient outcome data. How do we keep revenue-generating physicians happy? How do we foster innovation in a competitive marketplace? Start with a conversation—one driven by the evidence. ECRI calls this opportunity “learning and communicating on the evidence level.” It takes place when a value analysis team strives for a scientific process based on sound clinical evidence.

Improved physician engagement continues to be a strategic goal across the spectrum of healthcare delivery. Clinical evidence can drive a contextual dialogue between physicians and administrators. When you are responsible for managing a value analysis process for your hospital or health system, using clinical evidence is essential to drive successful collaboration with clinicians and support evidence-based decision making, healthy dialogue, workflow efficiencies, and better patient care. 

Tips for facilitating

  • Clarify the mission of your value analysis team
  • Avoid emotions and opinions and focus on developing a standard process guided by evidence
  • Find the best available evidence (or use assessments by an unbiased, independent third party)
  • Ask physicians to consider the quality and strength of each source
  • Share a summary of the findings with all stakeholders prior to decision time
  • Beware of the bias in low-quality studies
  • Make physicians an integral part of the decision process

By basing your decisions around evidence, your team can achieve their physician engagement goals while establishing a clinically-integrated supply chain.

Find out how ECRI Clinical Evidence Assessment helps health systems reduce research time, increase productivity, substantiate vendor claims, avoid costly technology errors, and focus on the most important clinical outcomes.