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What matters most: Understanding our customer's experience

By AmerisourceBergen

Building meaningful customer relationships through partnership and innovation

An interview with Richard Griffith, Administrator, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Baton Rouge

We recently sat down for a roundtable with several specialty practice administrators to discuss what matters most to them, and the value they place on the relationship with their distributors. Today we hear from Richard “Rich” Griffith of the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Rich was formerly the CEO of a leading oncology group dedicated to providing access to oncology and hematology services. As Rich notes throughout, he values the services provided to help with their patients, daily, as well as innovative ideas to make their practice thrive.

At AmerisourceBergen, it's valuable for us to know the voice of the customer—and we really want to know what matters to you, because it matters to us. Rich, what is it that matters most to you?

Rich Griffith:
Partnership is the first word that comes to mind. It may be a cliché, but what really defines a partnership is a professional relationship where you can depend on your partner day-to-day—to the point where you could not function or run your business without that partnership. 

Partnership is important especially when it comes to the GPO you work with in your practice. Services need to be delivered on a daily basis, and a critical part of that service is data. When you operate in a leadership role that depends on data to make critical decisions, you expect it to be delivered. The practice cannot function without it. That’s why the GPO partnership is what matters most to our practice.

It has often been said that solidarity really matters in our industry, particularly with distribution and your interactions with a GPO. What does solidarity mean to you in your practice?

Rich Griffith: Consistency is the most important quality that AmerisourceBergen provides to us. If we can't depend on the consistent delivery of services, which provides the ability to focus on running the business, it becomes a complete interruption. Day to day, it is sometimes difficult to stay on top of operations. We make sure the staff are ready to provide quality care to the patient, that our providers have everything they need to deliver quality care and that everything is running efficiently when we finish the day.

With all these moving pieces, you can see the importance of consistent delivery and why that service needs to be rock solid.  Our partnership is strong, which provides us the ability to reach out directly to leadership. The consistent delivery of service and our ability to depend on the team reinforces the importance of our partnership. A distributor and GPO are not just about the price of goods, they are also valuable because of the quality of services they can provide. Other companies have approached us in the past, but our practice would never consider leaving such an incredible service provider and partner. 

Can you talk about what innovation might mean to you in your years working with AmerisourceBergen?

Rich Griffith:
New ideas, new technologies, and new treatment processes being introduced to the oncology community are extremely important to us. We strive to improve physician efficiency and quality of life.  If we continue to improve, the end result is a better patient experience. 

At Mary Bird Perkins, we are opening palliative care and genetics services. Imagine a private community of oncology practices providing multi-disciplinary services where the patient receives care from multiple providers in the same location all on the same day. We believe this is the future of quality cancer care. There are many moving pieces to achieving this type of care model. Over the years, AmerisourceBergen has offered education through conferences, shared new industry technology through vendor partnerships, and provided consulting services. These offerings have connected us with subject matter experts in the industry that have proved to be an invaluable resource of innovative services.

Aside from the pricing (which is important), what other things do you consider when you make a decision on who you partner with as a GPO and a distributor?

Rich Griffith:
As a leader in the industry, it is paramount to keep our focus on quality cancer care while simultaneously trying to improve and manage the business. I am by no means perfect at this process, but I am confident in my resources and where to go for advice and collaboration. Many of the resources I communicate with are at AmerisourceBergen. They are experts with many years of experience in the same or a similar role. It provides a tremendous amount of value to find a partner with a holistic approach to distribution, GPO, and supportive solutions. That may not be a priority to some. However, the value we receive from AmerisourceBergen is vast and comprehensive—not just from goods, but also from services that improve the entire care model. Here are just a few of the services we utilize at my practice: 

  • Building a retail pharmacy from the ground up 
  • Building an APP program 
  • Vendor contract strategies 

I would place AmerisourceBergen heads above the competition and consider them a trusted partner that understands what matters to the community practice of today and tomorrow.