Banner Health; making health care easier, so life can be better 

Formed by a merger between Samaritan Health System and Lutheran Health Systems in 1999, Banner Health is not only one of the US’ largest employers, but also one of its top health systems for consistency in clinical quality. Throughout its lifetime, the enterprise has grown from a hospital-based company to a population health organization, and expanded across academic medicine, surgery centers, urgent care, imaging, retail and specialty pharmacies, and cancer facilities, to name a few key areas.  

Within its operations, Banner Health is partnered with the likes of MD Anderson, Atlas, Sonora Quest Labs, and Select Rehab Centers, to serve the one million members currently registered to its provider networks. At the time of its establishment, the company was sitting at $1.5 billion in total revenue, with a supply expense of $260 million, whereas today it’s handling $12 billion in revenue and $1.6 billion in supply expense.  

Supply chain excellence 

“I am incredibly proud to serve Banner Health,” opens Paul Oppat, Executive Director of Supply Chain Services. “I lead our supply chain operations across the system, which serves 30 hospitals and hundreds of non-acute sites in six states. My key responsibilities lie with our hospital-based supply chain teams, Corporate Consolidated Services Center, and Corporate Procurement. I have dedicated my career to healthcare, and I consider myself lucky to have a role where I can make a difference in people’s lives, every day.  

“Our New Day theme emerged as the organization shifted from a multi-year operational focus on pandemic response, back to a more strategic pathway. New Day speaks to how we have re-energized our goals in engaging and inspiring our people, perfecting the customers’ experiences and helping them to be their healthiest, and growing our overall reach and impact. We have accomplished all of this as One Team, another initiative, of 50,000 members; each striving for the same outcome, and sharing the same values, vision, mission, and purpose. 

“The Supply Chain Services team embraced our One Team vision by adding a ‘One Team, One Supply Chain’ theme to our work,” he continues. “This singular approach to assuring supply chain excellence helps us to minimize variation across the system, and reinforces standardization in how we operate and select the products and services that will bolster Banner Health’s efforts in being the most trusted health partner in our communities.” 

The measures to ensure this standardization of processes, information, and digitization, have been implemented alongside a virtual procurement interface, designed to facilitate digitally guided buying through contractual adherence and best value practices. The organization has also introduced a warehouse management system to streamline distribution and logistics operations, and a point-of-use system in procedural areas to capture last mile clinical supply consumptions. The overall combination results in greater insights regarding the cost-to-serve approach in the company’s source-to-settle lifecycle.  

As the Executive Director of Supply Chain Contracting, Mike Halmrast’s team is responsible for negotiating the organization’s supplies and services contracts, as well as being the primary contact for all of its vendors. “We work to address factors such as supply issues, vendor performances, and savings opportunities,” Mike explains, “but what I love the most about working for Banner Health, is our supply chain team. We work really hard, but still have fun whilst doing it, all with the primary goal of supporting the company mission: making health care easier, so life can be better. 

“With regards to our sourcing process, we utilize Premier as our national Group Purchasing Organization (GPO), which includes a large number of contracts spanning from medical, and surgical to food, and pharmacy. Back in 2018, Banner Health established its own regional GPO called Supply Chain Value Network, to further expand its contract coverage. This can be used not only by ourselves, but by any affiliates who choose to join it. 

Trusted healthcare partner

“Over the past year or so,” he elaborates, “our focus has shifted towards further developing our supplier diversity program. In doing so, the company has implemented measures to track its diversity spend, and to continually look for opportunities to increase it. Throughout this process, we have also launched a portal that allows potential new suppliers to submit pertinent contact information, as well as the details of their products and services. As and when we are looking to source contracts in their specific sectors, this system provides a quick and easy way to find prospective businesses with which to work.” 

“What I love most about my role,” concludes Doug Bowen, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain Services, “are the endless opportunities to help caregivers save lives every day. Back in college, my first job was stocking shelves at a local hospital, and I remember one day I was in the Emergency Department, when an ER physician ran into the supply room looking for a particular product. I quickly grabbed it and placed it in his hand, and he looked me in the eye and said, ‘strong work!’ From that day on I knew I wanted to base my career in supply chain, so I could care for our caregivers.  

“Banner Health is working tirelessly to take access and delivery, from complex to easy, from costly to affordable, and from unpredictable to reliable. We instill confidence in every individual who we serve, in their health care experience and its outcome. The entire supply chain team is working hard to create a culture where supply expense is everyone’s business, so that, consequently, every single member of our team is fully engaged in helping to make health care more accessible. We are striving to be the most trusted health partner in the US.”