Teresa Dail

Are you prepared for the AHRMM conference?

July 12, 2019
by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief
Teresa Dail is chief supply chain officer of Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and has served as the chair of the board for the Association for Health Care Resources and Materials Management (AHRMM). In the following interview, Teresa Dail discusses her career in healthcare, her experience as a member of AHRMM, and offers insights on the annual AHRMM Conference & Exhibition.

HCB News: Can you tell us about your background in healthcare and how you originally become involved with AHRMM?
Teresa Dail: For the first 16 years of my career I was an ICU nurse/nursing leader at a large IDN/Level I trauma center, before moving to the outpatient setting serving as a clinical practice administrator for a critical care/intensivist pulmonary group. I started my career in supply chain as a clinical resource manager leading the contracting branch of supply chain where I ultimately developed a physician engagement model for value analysis. I was then promoted to corporate director of supply chain for a seven-hospital system. I am currently at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where I serve as the chief supply chain officer as well as president of two for-profit supply chain companies: Vanderbilt Health Supply Chain Solutions and Vanderbilt Health Purchasing Collaborative. As a nurse, I was very active with my professional organizations so when I moved to supply chain it was a natural migration for me to seek out AHRMM.

HCB News: What are opportunities for women within health care supply chain?
TD: Today, I wouldn’t differentiate the opportunities in supply chain based on sex. When I first started in supply chain it was a predominately male profession, however that is changing rapidly. What I will say is that there are more clinicians becoming involved in supply chain due to the need for a clinically-integrated approach to how decisions are made to support care and health. Given that the nursing profession is still predominately female, this is introducing a new opportunity for those clinicians to move, as I did, from the bedside into these types of roles. I’ve always believed that, in many instances, we create our own barriers. It’s our responsibility to strive to be our best possible self through hard work, being passionate about what we do and taking risks by stepping out of our comfort zone to get where we want to go.

HCB News: What advice can you provide to students and early careerists who are looking to pursue a career within the health care supply chain field, and who may be looking for a leadership position?
TD: I believe, in order to be an effective leader, one needs to expose his/herself to the full array of roles and responsibilities that a supply chain professional working in healthcare may have. I’m not suggesting that one needs to be an expert in all areas but having a foundational understanding of all the entire supply chain fits together is critical. There is a reason that we hear about the individual who started in the mailroom of a corporation and is now a president or CEO. That exposure and willingness to learn about the organization sets the stage for advancement.

Speaking of AHRMM as an association and its membership

HCB News: Membership in AHRMM is not limited to healthcare supply chain professionals. There are members who are involved on the supplier side, as well as providers. Why should clinicians consider membership within AHRMM?

TD: With value-based care, now more than ever, it is critical that we take a clinically-integrated approach in our decision-making. That means that all the key stakeholders are engaged in developing the solution to a problem or opportunity, whether it be a clinical outcome that is desired, a quality issue that needs to be addressed or an economic opportunity that needs to be achieved. The introduction of the Cost, Quality and Outcomes (CQO) movement by AHRMM five years ago was about AHRMM beginning to educate supply chain professionals about the role they play in impacting these factors. With the evolution of that movement to now include a clinically-integrated supply chain, having clinical colleagues, be it nurses, physicians, or pharmacists, being part of a network that is focused on driving value to support the care and health of our patients is an imperative. Being able to learn from and with each other to achieve our common goals can only enhance us as professionals and ultimately result in the highest value for our patients.

HCB News: AHRMM members have a common interest in supply chain, but what do they seek from the organization itself and its events?
TD: Education, networking and advancement. AHRMM helps to provide all of these. And it is not just education about supply chain. The topics are broadening to include areas like what is the Triple Aim or what does “social determinants of health” mean and how does that fit into the day-to-day role supply chain fills. Supply chain professionals are realizing that in order to be seen as a valuable asset to their organization they need to possess a broader understanding of the healthcare environment.

Shifting to the AHRMM Conference & Exhibition, which is being held in San Diego this year

HCB News: Looking back on last year's AHRMM conference, what sticks out the most in your memory?

TD: I was chair of AHRMM last year so this question is easy for me. During my opening session comments to the attendees, I was looking out in the audience and it was apparent that my message around the need for a clinically-integrated supply chain was making a connection with the attendees. It was a great feeling to be able to see that what I was passionate about, and what the ARHMM board had been focused on that year, actually had the ability to make an impact.

HCB News: It's my understanding that consolidation has added new layers of complexity to hospital supply chain. Is this a topic of heavy discussion at the conference?
TD: The impact of mergers and acquisitions, whether it be with provider organizations or suppliers, is always a topic of conversation, and one that peers seek guidance and support from each other on how to address.

HCB News: What are some of the newer trends or topics that you expect to be discussed more this year than they had been in previous years?
TD: Because ARHMM is very focused on continuing the impact of the CQO movement and the adoption of a clinically integrated supply chain, this year there will be a track dedicated to clinical integration.

HCB News: For first time attendees, what advice would you offer to make sure they make the most of their time?
TD: Make every effort to attend the learning labs and make your choices diverse. Meaning, attend a session that can enhance your current educational level on a topic, but also don’t be afraid to attend sessions that stretch beyond your current role and expose you to other areas of supply chain. As I stated earlier, having a broader knowledge of all the various roles and responsibilities that a supply chain professional can function in can only enhance one professionally and ultimately help position for future success. Also, visit the vendor exhibits. There are valuable learnings there but also it gives you the opportunity to connect and form relationships that can be important to a future need.

HCB News: Anything else you want to mention in our interview that we haven't already touched upon (e.g., emerging technologies that focus on women’s health — the focus of this issue; your time as the AHRMM Board Chair)?
TD: It was very fulfilling from the perspective of being a woman and a nurse to have been elected to the AHRMM board and then serving as the chair in 2018. What this said to me is that our members are looking for leaders who want to advance supply chain as a profession and neither sex nor failure to come up through the traditional path in supply chain was a barrier to being viewed as a capable leader. In addition, being able to be part of an organization that recognizes the value, and embraces the idea, of working with clinical colleagues to impact cost, quality and outcomes, changing the way we approach the delivery of care and support of health, allows me to bring the best of myself to what I do every single day and hopefully will set the example for future generations on what they can accomplish.