How Health First is transforming its supply chain to enable data-driven decisions 

Founded in 1965, Health First is a not-for-profit community health system located in Brevard County, Florida. Through excellent quality and compassionate healthcare, the organization is on a mission to positively improve the health and wellness of the families in the communities it serves.  

Health First is a strong pillar in the community. Operating the county’s only Level II Trauma Center, Health First has four hospitals: Cape Canaveral Hospital, Holmes Regional Medical Center, Palm Bay Hospital, and Viera Hospital. With around 1100 beds across its network, the organization provides a range of services from urgent care and cancer treatment to orthopedics and family pharmacies, as well as offering a variety of health insurance plans. 

India Randerson

“As one of the largest healthcare organizations in Bevard County, we are truly engrained in the community and dedicated to its residents, considering ourselves as much more than just a healthcare provider,” opens India Randerson, System Vice President of Supply Chain Management at Health First. 

“Historically the supply chain hadn’t always been a top area of focus and priority, and so there were several areas of improvement to drive efficiency. But, within any healthcare organization, supply chain is the second largest spend behind labor and we’re a critical part of the care team and directly connected to the organization’s overall mission.  

“However, the Covid-19 pandemic made all companies, especially in the healthcare sector, realize the significance of their respective supply chains. Health First recognized the specific opportunities to revolutionize its supply chain and drive efficiency by leveraging data analytics and market intelligence.”  

Driving efficiencies 

Turning to her own experiences, India reflects: “Although I’m new to Health First, I’ve been working in the healthcare sector for over 20 years. I started with a summer job during college, but I didn’t expect it to span my entire career to date. However, supply chain is in my blood; my mother spent 41 years of her 45-year career working in healthcare supply, so such conversations became second nature to me from an early age. 

“Having worked at a small distribution firm, then Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan for 16 years, I’ve developed a 360-degree perspective of the supply chain, especially within healthcare. I’ve sat in almost every seat within the function, including buying, sourcing, vendor compliance, and supplier diversity.” 

Relating her experience and industry knowledge to her current role, she explains: “My ultimate goal in supply chain is always to deliver the right product at the right time and at the right price. We have an amazing talent pool and I’m grateful to work alongside a phenomenal team that are equally as passionate and excited about supply chain as I am.  

“I think that all organizations are intentionally focusing on employing strategies to leverage technology, automation, data analytics, and AI with an aim to become more efficient. Health First is no exception, and we’ve committed significant resources to our investment in technology to not only drive efficiencies but also improve the patient experience and delivery of care.  

“At an organizational level, we’re exploring the use of electronic medical records (EMR) software to digitize our patient data, for instance, as well as a new ERP system. Within the supply chain function specifically, we’ve gone through a complete procurement-to-payment overhaul. We’ve assessed every category of spending across the business and redefined the best purchase and payment methods.   

Real-time data

“As part of this project, we’re building the necessary controls and workflows into our ERP system to establish appropriate approval pathways and integrating automatic controls to govern our spending. We’re also set to install our very own, homegrown point of use solution to capture detailed real-time supply utilization data on a case-per-case basis. This will not only improve our revenue capture but will also enable us to analyze variation between physicians or sites to make evidence-based decisions that enhance quality while containing costs.” 

India adds: “The other area we’re focusing on is data. We’re taking all our purchase and consumption data, cleansing it, then creating real-time dashboards to enable both our internal customers and supply chain professionals to rapidly access relevant actionable data whenever and wherever they need to. Utilization data will also help to inform future source selections, care decisions, and protocols too.  

Promising future 

“When it comes to suppliers, I approach those partnerships with the same values as any other relationship – trust, integrity, and honesty. Building trust is the most important aspect in any relationship, so I always operate with integrity and encourage honest, transparent two-way communication. I put my best foot forward in any discussion or challenge and expect the same from those I work with to ensure that our collaboration drives value for both parties.” 

India’s passion is evident throughout our conversation, and as talk turns to the future, it’s clear to see her equal enthusiasm. “This year looks fabulous for Health First,” she states. “It’s no secret that we’ve experienced some financial challenges over the last couple of years, but they were one-time hits that were easily explained and not necessarily avoidable. We’ve also gone through a tremendous number of leadership changes, with our new CEO being named imminently.  

“However, we fought through those very challenging times, and they have made us more resilient,” India concludes. “We’ve made significant investments to enhance patient experience, and although I can’t reveal any details, we’re on the cusp of some really wonderful things across the organization. There’s a general feeling of hope and excitement as we navigate 2024 and prepare for a future of continuing to deliver excellent healthcare services across Brevard County.”