Starting Line: From the Desk of Ed Jones

Flashback to 1999

Reflecting on 20 years of foundational history and business growth

Rewind to 1999 and what do you remember most? Notably, Bill Clinton was halfway through his second term as U.S. president, Columbine became a name forever etched in our hearts, and technology experts were warning us about the Y2K bug and its perceived impending doom on computer systems as we transitioned from the 20th to the 21st century. Personally, I was the father of one small daughter with a second one on the way. I was also preparing to move my family from Richmond to Nashville after assuming a role as one of HCA’s vice presidents of supply chain.

BUILDING THE BUSINESS

The last year of the 1990s also marked the creation of HealthTrust. While the healthcare GPO industry already existed, founding CEO Jim Fitzgerald put a stake in the ground from the beginning that one of the organization’s founding principles would be member participation in advisory boards. Not only was that decision industry-differentiating, but my predecessor recognized it as one of the most important factors in our long-running success.

At the time, HCA made the decision to spin off LifePoint and Triad. As the senior executive of supply chain, Jim and his team were exploring ways to continue to aggregate the purchasing power of all three IDNs, which historically delivered the industry-best pricing they had obtained as an HCA collective. This was a very important component because it laid the foundation to successfully transform supply chain from a sourcing function to a total spend management organization.

In addition to supporting the three founding providers (HCA, LifePoint and Triad), a longer-term goal became expanding the GPO with other organizations that shared a vision and culture of improving both patient care and operations. We are proud to have expanded HealthTrust’s membership to now include more than 1,500 of the most dynamic and esteemed healthcare organizations that still share that vision.

The other signature feature that remains inherent to our DNA is the model for committed purchasing. While competitors have tried to emulate our aggregation strategy over the past 20 years, none has the track record of successfully and consistently delivering significant speed to value. Fast forward to 2019, and the success of that business model has stood the test of time. (Last year, HealthTrust exceeded $40 billion in aligned spend.)

EXPANDING TO MEET MEMBER NEEDS

I was honored to join HealthTrust in 2008, first as its chief operating officer, and then as CEO when Jim retired in 2012. In more recent years, our business model has expanded beyond group purchasing to assist providers in meeting the requirements of an increasingly complex healthcare environment. HealthTrust’s total spend management solutions now include consulting and data and analytics capabilities to positively impact provider supply chain, clinical integration and workforce initiatives.

Our daily accountability to the nation’s leading health systems provides us with industry-leading benchmarks and best practices in service line leadership, shared services management, physician engagement and innovative pilots. This “operator advantage” informs every assessment and recommendation we make to help providers achieve improvements in costs, quality and outcomes. It also affords our members access to a rich community of colleagues for learning and knowledge sharing opportunities.

CELEBRATING 20 YEARS

The official acknowledgment of our 20-year milestone will commence in the first quarter with the publication of an inaugural special report. We look forward to commemorating our platinum achievement throughout 2019, including a celebration with member attendees during the HealthTrust University Conference, Aug. 12–14, in Nashville. As we envision the future, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on advancing our collaboration to meet the needs of your progressive organization over the next 20 years!

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