A conversation with former AHVAP president Dee Donatelli, RN, BSN, MBA
Today is the first day of Value Analysis Week, organized by the Association of Value Analysis Professionals (AHVAP) to recognize the critical role value analysis professionals play in healthcare. These individuals—a nucleus of clinical and non-clinical healthcare professionals—bridge the gap between clinical practice and the supply chain. They use evidence-based data and their deep understanding of the cost-quality continuum to guide their healthcare organizations in reviewing and selecting products and services. Over the longer term, they aid in resolving quality concerns related to those products and services.
There’s no better way to kick off the week than to sit down for a conversation with one of those “value insiders.” Former AHVAP president Dee Donatelli, MBA, BSN, is senior director of symplr Spend. She has dedicated over 40 years to elevating patient care as a clinician and thought leader in the value analysis community (WeAreValueAnalysis).
What does value analysis mean to you?
DD: As this community may know, I’m passionate about the subject of value analysis and love talking about its history. It’s an especially relevant discussion today following the collective challenges to healthcare over the last couple of years.
It is always fun to reflect on how value analysis was pulled out of industry practices and implemented in healthcare. When we look to the dictionary, value analysis is classified as a noun: “The systematic and critical assessment by an organization of every feature of a product to ensure that its cost is no greater than its necessity to carry out its function.” While the definition is interesting, I think of value analysis as an action verb rather than a noun. Adapted from a framework developed within industry to reduce costs, value analysis has become an active process across diverse healthcare stakeholders.
Value analysis professionals have become a critical component ... in the effort to reduce costs across the continuum. —Dee Donatelli
I love the idea that the process of value analysis is systematic. Essentially, it’s a standardized decision support process by which a hospital can put in place the value analysis process to help make evidence-based, financially conscious, and outcome-centered decisions. From a practical standpoint, what value analysis means to me is to get organized. In practice, this means having a systematic, standardized approach that you use not just once but every single time.
Similarly, it is not just for new products, but for every aspect of how we’re making decisions. For value analysis today, this framework holds so that we can operate our health systems not only more efficiently, but more effectively and more predominately organized from a cost perspective.
How has the importance of value analysis professionals grown?
DD: When I think about the maturation of the value analysis profession over the last several decades during which I’ve been involved, I focus on how value analysis has become a critical component in integrating our business supply chain with clinical care. While that focus has always been present to some degree, there has been more of an emphasis now than ever before.
Looking back, I believe that COVID-19 perpetuated that focus as suddenly, clinicians had to specifically rely on supply chain to make rapid decisions and increase product availability. On this topic, one of the things I love to point out is that the Association for Health Care Resource & Materials Management (AHRMM) worked on a definition of clinical integration, which depicts the evolution of what value analysis has become today:
“The interdisciplinary partnership to deliver patient care with the highest value (the highest quality, best outcomes, and minimal waste at the lowest cost of care) that is achieved through assimilation and coordination of clinical and supply chain knowledge, data, and leadership toward care across the continuum that is safe, timely, evidence-based, efficient, equitable, and patient focused.” —AHRMM
Achieving the levels of assimilation required to coordinate all of the clinical aspects and business supply chain elements of healthcare value analysis is absolutely essential for [healthcare organizations’] viability moving forward. As a standard, we need to be timely, evidence-based, equitable, and—more than anything—we need to be patient focused. Value analysis has become the framework under which we standardize our practice of healthcare and the products that help support standardization goals to improve patient care and outcomes.
In a nutshell, if you were to ask what orients value analysis, I believe it comes down to these three things:
- Improve patient outcomes
- Standardize products and practices in healthcare
- Reduce costs
Their order of magnitude may change given fluctuations in scenarios, but it’s important to never lose sight of that three-legged stool: patient outcomes, quality, and cost.
Finally, what’s your takeaway message for value analysis professionals or those considering it as a career path?
DD: Value analysis professionals today have become a critical component, not only in patient care, but in the collective effort to reduce costs across the continuum.
We know that because of COVID-19, many hospitals are struggling to regain financial viability. With a solid value analysis process in place, no matter where an organization is on the maturity scale, it is a steppingstone to achieve better financial viability and improved outcomes for patients.
For readers, if you’ve ever been interested in supporting patient care through a value-based approach, value analysis may be the right place to be. I truly believe that in the future, value analysis will continue to grow in importance as efforts are recognized across the healthcare ecosystem.
Learn more about how symplr helps healthcare organizations—and value analysis professionals—navigate the complexities of healthcare spend management.