Gold Medal Performance

December 31, 2013By Industry Intuition, Views

By Dave Wendland for HealthCare Distributor

December 2012/January 2013 — Many of us marveled over the summer months at the incredible talent and skill of the remarkable Olympians representing their respective countries with pride. As I watched their unflappable grace when facing incredible competition, perseverance as they were met with obstacles and challenges, and the unbelievable dedication to their sport, I was reminded of our own industry.

It’s not uncommon to compare competitive sports with business — in fact several years ago I commented on the similarities between winning a Super Bowl and success in business (October 2007). Likewise, while at industry events, I’m often involved in conversations focused on teamwork, winning attitudes, endurance, and cross-training. Not to mention the opportunities I have had to hear countless athletic superstars share motivational speeches with conference participants.

Despite the overused metaphors, I couldn’t resist using the Olympics as my theme for this month’s topic.

Fantastic Gymnasts

Imagining the skill required to become an all-around gymnast is absolutely mind-boggling. Not only does it require incredible strength and agility, but it also demands mental preparation to adjust routines and respond to the threat of talented competitors.

As the U.S. team swung, leapt, tumbled, flipped, and turned, it was awe-inspiring. At the end, we realized that despite individual contributions and medals, gymnastics is indeed a team sport enveloped by common goals, aspirations, and dreams.

Performance on a world stage and execution at an athlete’s highest level must collide with intense pressure brought on by the competition itself. However, the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics’ team dominance in London during the Summer Games proved that these athletes had the necessary skills, commitment, and determination to be their best.

Healthcare Heroes

In my 20+ years directly involved in this incredible industry I have observed a similar level of inventiveness and dedication to excellence. Effectively managing a business and adding value to the healthcare supply chain is an exceedingly demanding, ever-evolving and fiercely competitive sport — while at the same time requiring collaboration and a team-derived outcome.

One need look no further than recent challenges that face our healthcare industry to get an idea of the magnitude of this “game”: 1) supply chain interruptions and drug shortages; 2) trace-and-tracking initiatives; 3) rampant drug abuse and illegal activities; 4) ongoing consolidation; and 5) declining margins.

Of course, the delivery and management of a safe and effective healthcare distribution network is far from a game. It’s a serious business that is at the very heart of this country’s sustainability. And I am thankful that we have an industry abundantly enriched with gold medalists each day striving to improve their performance and continually hone their operations and approaches for the benefit of all.

Remarkable Results

I can, with certainty, predict that tomorrow’s challenges will be uniquely different than those faced today. And, likewise, I am confident in this industry’s ability to work together to ensure that the health of the country is adequately and efficiently addressed. Unlike the Olympics occurring every four years, the Olympians of our industry must compete each and every day, not just when the spotlight shines on them.

The healthcare industry has certainly endured its share of challenges and never-relenting competition. I found that drawing comparisons to what I witnessed as I watched the Olympic Games formed the ideal basis for this column.

I salute the success of the U.S. Olympic athletes and the accomplishments of the 2012 Summer Games. As well, I applaud the heroes of our healthcare industry and the tremendous commitment and passion displayed through their combined efforts.

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