Dr. Jimmy Y. Chung

Discussing supply chain and the upcoming AHRMM meeting

July 25, 2022
by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief
Dr. Jimmy Y. Chung, M.D., MBA, FACS, FABQAURP, CMRP is the chief medical officer at Bon Secours Mercy Health and is currently serving as the 2022 AHRMM Advisory Board president. In the following interview, Dr. Chung discusses his career in healthcare, his experience as a member of AHRMM, and offers insights on the forthcoming annual AHRMM Conference & Exhibition.

HCB News: Who or what inspired you to follow a career in health care?
Dr. Jimmy Y. Chung: In college, I started volunteering at a free clinic in the midst of the AIDS crisis and soon decided that I wanted to become a doctor. During medical school, I volunteered at a rural hospital in Kenya where I gained a lot of experience in treating injuries … after that I decided to become a general surgeon.

HCB News: Can you tell us about your history with the AHRMM and why you first joined?
JC: I joined AHRMM during my first supply chain job as director of value analysis because I wanted to learn more about supply chain. As one of the few practicing physicians in the organization, I quickly realized the value of the organization for not just supply chain professionals but physicians and other clinicians. I felt strongly that supply chain is a subject that physicians need to understand and appreciate, but is sorely lacking in their education.

HCB News: What did that journey look like, from joining AHRMM to becoming the Advisory Board Chair?
JC: The mission and strategic map of AHRMM really aligned with my vision of a patient-centered, value-based healthcare system where our precious resources are managed to optimize the value of care and the patient experience. I wanted to contribute a physician’s perspective to the organization and help develop a clinically integrated supply chain program, so I decided to run for the board. After my three years on the board and also chairing the Conference Education Committee, I continued to pursue a career directed at supply chain, or as I like to call it, health resource optimization. Supply chain is no longer only about maximizing the value of products, but improving patient outcomes and experience through optimizing resource utilization and clinical service operations. When I was invited to run for Advisory Board Chair of AHRMM, I felt absolutely honored that I was being entrusted to lead such an esteemed and important professional organization.

HCB News: How would you describe the impact COVID-19 has had on hospital supply chain?
JC: COVID-19 obviously created significant stresses on hospitals by creating an unprecedented and unpredictable demand on PPEs, but I think it’s the impacts that are less visible to clinicians that have had more long-term effects. Virtually every hospital I know that had spent years perfecting their Just in Time (JIT) practice was now rethinking that strategy. Two years into the pandemic, the key word now is resiliency. Trust and collaboration between all the stakeholders were tested to the extreme, with not always good results. Automated systems that operated on demand signals were thrown for a loop, and some hospitals were disadvantaged due to allocation protocols. Outside the hospital walls, consumer demand competing for products or raw materials bound for health care also created havoc, such as plastics and resin used for IV bags and syringes and heavy metals used for computer chips. Most recently, COVID isolation protocols in China shut down the entire production of contrast media, causing a global shortage, which was not really a problem with supply chain but rather public health policies. All these issues brought to light the vulnerabilities and blind spots that perhaps most of us had never experienced in our careers.

HCB News: Do you foresee any long term changes, or improvements, to supply chain management going forward from the pandemic?
JC: Some positive outcomes in supply chain from the pandemic might include advanced technologies and analytic capabilities that were developed as a response to disruptions, and automation solutions developed in response to labor shortages. In addition, we saw much more involvement by clinicians, namely physicians, in clinical supply chain, which many provider organizations have adopted as best practice. Also, increased awareness by the public and hospital leadership of the importance of supply chain have created a greater impetus to invest more resources into modernization and strategic development of supply chain and its workforce.

HCB News: What are some of the biggest initiatives that AHRMM is currently focusing on?
JC: AHRMM is leveraging the current high interest in supply chain to focus on patient outcomes and healthcare quality as the ultimate goals of supply chain organizations. We have also elevated the discussions on the role of health supply chain in environmental stewardship, health inequities, and social determinants of health. We are also continuing to develop the AHRMM Keys initiative to help provider organizations perform at the top of their abilities. We are aiming to maintain our role as the global leader in health supply chain information, resources, education, and leadership through innovative programs to create collaborative partnerships with aligned organizations and new education and certification programs for our members and other health professionals.

HCB News: Can you tell us more about what attendees can expect at the annual meeting in Anaheim, California?
JC: While we had a great meeting last year in Nashville, this will be the first unrestricted (hopefully) AHRMM conference in three years, and already there is so much buzz about everyone coming together again! There were already a few supply chain-related meetings this year, and I know everyone is really looking forward to this conference. We will have many more first-time attendees than prior years as well as new suppliers who have been eagerly waiting to attend for three years. The sessions this year are unique and have a much greater focus on Professional Development, Continuity of Supply and Preparedness Response, and Community Impact, which are new tracks for this year. We also have a special track for Department of Defense with several exciting presentations that highlight the DOD’s unique challenges and solutions that everyone can learn from.

HCB News: Are there any sessions or presentations that you're particularly excited about?
JC: There are so many great sessions this year, I can’t choose just a few. I would definitely recommend our keynote speakers this year, and take advantage of the numerous sessions on new topics this year such as diversity, social responsibility, resiliency, and professional development, as well as the aforementioned DOD sessions.

HCB News: What are some of the hot topics you expect attendees to be talking about at this year's meeting?
JC: There’s already a lot of buzz over creative partnerships, automation, clinical integration, diversity, and environmental sustainability. COVID, of course, is still a hot topic, but conversations are moving more toward envisioning the post-COVID future carrying forward what we learned, and not so much rehashing the struggles we all faced in the past two years. We are moving on to a better and brighter future!