The Department of Veterans Affairs Procurement and Logistics Office (P&LO) is responsible for implementing a full range of procurement and logistics policies and services to assist Veteran Health Administration (VHA) in providing the best care to Veterans. To improve VA’s acquisition of medical equipment and supplies at its facilities, PL&O turned to Liberty IT Solutions and their partners Prodigo Solutions and Atlas Research to deliver the Supply Chain Master Catalog (SCMC) powered by Prodigo’s Marketplace platform. The SCMC has been improving VAs supply chain data quality and created a Single Source of Truth (SSoT) for contract line-items on VA and VHA contracts.
The primary business needs for the SCMC stem from the use of multiple systems that did not share product, pricing, or sourcing data. This gap has caused problems for VA which include the inability to harness its collective buying power to control price, the overuse of Purchasing Cards (or P-Cards) for clinical items, the lack of standardization in equipment and product purchasing practices. This has led VA staff to adopt short-term workarounds exacerbating the variation in product pricing VA pays, duplicative contracts, and the over stocking of supplies in anticipation of shortfalls. Further, the legacy systems did not allow VA to measure utilization which created significant additional expenses.
To solve these business problems, VA needed a central location of VA contracted medical equipment and supply items that contains cleansed, enriched, and harmonized information from all VA contract data sources.
How Prodigo’s Marketplace and Team Liberty Helped
The SCMC has 3000+ end users and provides the VA community of clinicians, procurement teams, contract specialists, and logisticians with access to over 2,600 contracts and 575,000 contract line-items using Prodigo’s Marketplace a Software as a Service (SaaS) product that is FedRAMP Authorized and Section 508 Compliant. SCMC has had over 20,000 searches conducted to date with usage and value of the system improving every day.
Marketplace transforms the way VA interacts and manages contract line-items using harmonization, enrichment, and data standardization
Prior to SCMC, VA contract line-item information lacked data harmonization, enrichment, and standardization across various data sources which resulted in many different versions of a single line-item. The SCMC Team implemented a VA National Catalog in only eleven (11) months which is now the SSoT using specific business logic and rules that combined like items dynamically. Once the business logic was tested and verified, the VA National Catalog was hosted in Marketplace’s healthcare supply chain platform.
Marketplace features a robust and patented search engine which provides the ability to search for items by: Contract Number, Vendor and Manufacturer part number, Vendor and Manufacturer name, GTIN, UNSPSC, item description, HCPCS Code, MedPDB key, or any other keyword that describes an item. The search results are displayed in a simple, user-friendly interface with detailed item information that helps VA conduct research on a contract and its line-items to decide which items to purchase for their VA Medical Center (VAMC). The item data available to the VA in the SCMC Marketplace includes the current contract price, accurate unit of measure, Contract Effective and Expiration dates, and National Stock Number, along with item attributes, device identifiers, descriptions and images from Prodigo’s Global Catalog that inform the end user about a contract and the contract line-items. This data is easily exportable with one-click into a spreadsheet for reporting, collaboration, and additional analysis.
The detailed analysis of the National Catalog in Marketplace has supported VA business process improvement initiatives that include identifying duplicative contracts, price comparison of like items across the system, data quality improvements, and data standardization in relation to vendor and manufacture names. For example, VA has analyzed some of their key clinical items like Personal Protective Equipment or PPE to compare the price they paid the vendor to the contracted price in SCMC and found some significant differences between the price on the contract and the price on the vendor purchase order. This level of detail is allowing VA to make pricing corrections in their purchasing system, giving VA opportunities for more cost savings and improving their contract compliance. As VA continues to improve source data quality, standardization, and enrichment, VA will be able to use SCMC for spend management and reporting, making better strategic supply chain decisions in contract and inventory management, as well as improving procurement operations and reducing match exceptions in the purchasing process.
Why This Matters
Business intelligence enables better decision making on current and future contracts
Key performance indicators for contract line-item data were difficult for the team to track and measure due to the quality of contract line-item data. For example, some of the price disparities around like items on different contracts are significant and with the data that now exists in the VA National Catalog the VA can direct end users to the most preferred items first which will improve their contract compliance to the best contracts which will ultimately reduce costs and give the VA opportunities to take advantage of tiered pricing incentives, rebate tracking, and put them in a better price negotiating position on future contracting events. The line-item data stored in SCMC is used to update an external reporting tool through an automated feed of data. The business intelligence SCMC provides about their contracts and the contract line-items is validating their efforts and giving them a top-down view of the information needed to affect change on many levels. It is also providing metrics around who is using the system and how often which will help them adjust the messages during training and build different use cases for Logisticians, Procurement Teams, and Ordering Officers across VA. As the National Catalog evolves and more contracts are added, the usability of the system is crossing many functional areas and teams within VA and allowing them to collaborate on many new levels. The external reporting tool platform identifies items that appear on more than one contract and the prices negotiated on those agreements. This type of business intelligence now gives the VA the information they need to build better contracting procedures and processes that will reduce the number of duplicative contracts with varied pricing and provide them with the ability to drive more spend to their most preferred contract vehicles like the Medical Surgical Prime Vendor (MSPV) and ultimately reduce purchase card spend and overall cost.
As the VA navigates through its supply chain modernization efforts, the SCMC will provide the one true source for contract line-item data and give its user community the visibility they need to make not only the right decision but the best one for veteran care. SCMC has been able to bring many VA teams and offices together to solve business problems and it’s this level of collaboration that is needed to truly improve the way they manage and modernize supply chain.