When Donna Meyer walks into a Fairview Clinic exam room, she probably feels right at home.
After all, she’s responsible for ensuring that caregivers have the products they need to care for patients, from exam gloves to needles to cotton swabs to dialysis supplies.
Donna is a contracting specialist in Fairview Supply Chain who is responsible for nursing commodities, and holds around 200 contracts.
Her 11 Contract Services team members include contract specialists, a contract associate and a director. Together, they maintain service, product, IT and capital equipment contracts for Fairview—contracts that cover myriad things from garbage collection and ambulance services to copy paper, IV supplies, flooring and furniture.
In other words, contract specialists help keep our hospitals, clinics and offices running.
“Anywhere you look, to some extent, our team has touched it,” says Sofya Mikhelson, director of Contracting and Purchase Services at Fairview.
“We help clinicians do their work better by making sure they have right product at the right price.”
Though contract specialists have a unique set of skills and knowledge, they don’t work in a vacuum. They work closely with site directors, inventory specialists at each hospital and in the clinics, the Purchasing team (which places orders from the inventory specialists), Accounts Payable (which ensures proper bills are paid) and clinical integration project managers.
“We sit with managers and directors and teams, learning what they need and bringing in the products that best meet our needs,” Sofya says.
They also facilitate multidisciplinary groups that review potential products and determine which will best meet clinical needs while being cost effective.
The goal is to ensure that Fairview consistently orders products and services that meet patient and employee needs across the system.
“It’s a team effort to make sure nurses and physicians have the supplies they need. It takes a whole organization to get there,” Donna says.
Fairview is a member of Premier, a group purchasing organization that negotiates contracts on behalf of its members with vendors for a wide variety of products and services.
Collaborating with other Premier partners allows us to aggregate our volumes and drive down costs.
Good contract specialists are detail-oriented, analytical and good at building and maintaining relationships. Negotiation skills are a must, and goal-setting is important.
“When we go into negotiations, we need to know what we want and what’s reasonable for us to get from the supplier,” Donna says. “That comes from knowing the market and bringing attention to what’s needed for excellent patient care.”
Georgia Cochrane, lead purchase services coordinator, says working closely with various teams and staff throughout the system helps her understand the complexity and benefits of such a large health care system and helps her feel connected to Fairview’s mission of improving the health of the communities we serve.
“I don’t often think of myself as directly impacting patient care but, behind the scenes, certainly, the work we do is very impactful,” she says.
Learn more about careers at Fairview.