A diagnosis of supply chain integration in healthcare
Despite significant growth in research about supply chain integration, many questions remain unanswered regarding the path to integration and the benefits that can be accrued. This dissertation examines three aspects of supply chain integration in the health sector, leveraging the healthcare context to extend the theoretical boundaries, as well as applying supply chain knowledge to an industry known to be immature in terms of its supply chain practices.
In the first chapter, a supply chain operating model that breaks away from the traditional healthcare supply chain structures is examined. Consolidated Service Centers (CSCs) embody a shared services strategy, consolidating supply chain functions across multiple hospitals (i.e. horizontal integration) and disintermediating several key roles in healthcare supply chains such as the group purchasing organizations and national distributors. Through case studies, key characteristics of CSCs that enable them to reduce the level of supply chain complexity are examined.
The second chapter investigates buyer-supplier relationships in healthcare (i.e. supplier integration), where a high level of distrust exists between hospitals and their suppliers. This context is leveraged to study both enablers and barriers to buyer-supplier trust. The results suggest that contracting counteracts the negative effects of dependence on trust. Furthermore, the study reveals that hospital buyers may, in some situations, perceive dedicated resource investments made by suppliers as trust barriers, associating such investments with supplier upselling and entrenchment tactics. This runs contrary to how dedicated investments are perceived in most other industries.
In the third chapter, the triadic relationship between the hospital, supplier, and physician is taken into consideration. Given their professional autonomy and power, physicians commonly undermine hospital efforts in supply base rationalization and standardization. This study examines whether physician-hospital integration (i.e. customer integration) can drive physicians towards supply selection practices that align with the hospital’s sourcing strategies and ultimately result in better supply chain performance. This study utilizes theory on agency triads and professionalism and tests hypotheses through a random effects regression model applied to data about hospital financial performance and physician-hospital arrangements.