'Never went without PPE': Johns Hopkins supply chain leader on accomplishments and 2023 priorities

Burton Fuller, chief supply chain officer at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Health System, found himself unable to decide between a career in medicine or business. It was not until he started his first consulting job in hospital supply that he realized he could do both.

Mr. Fuller has been the vice president and chief supply chain officer since July 2019. He said his greatest accomplishment in his position has been ensuring Johns Hopkins clinicians were never without critical personal protective equipment throughout the pandemic. 

Here, he answers Becker's five supply leader questions.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

Question: What piqued your interest in healthcare supply chain?

Burton Fuller: When I was an undergraduate at William and Mary, I dual majored in biology and finance. I was uncertain if I wanted to pursue medicine or business. My first job was with a consultancy where I focused on strategic sourcing for health systems. I thought I would take a year or two before further contemplating medical school. I found that conversations with clinicians and with suppliers enabled exposure to both areas of my personal interest: the science behind how the supplies were used while applying business acumen to cost efficiencies and negotiation strategies. I was fortunate to work on a team filled with kind and intelligent people who each found the work challenging, rewarding and enjoyable. I proceeded to anchor my career as a consultant in healthcare supply chain, operations and margin improvement.

What are a few of your top priorities for 2023?

BF: Our organization, like most, is mitigating the rising costs of operations and ongoing staffing challenges. In such a paradigm, high-impact change management efforts can flourish. We are redesigning the structures, processes and accountability models that govern each modality of our supply chain (operations, procurement, sourcing, etc.) to implement and realize margin improvements. This includes:

  • Integrating each area of supply chain operations across our hospitals into the corporate structure to enable consistent inventory management processes, measurement of productivity and staffing levels.

  • We are catalyzing our efforts to standardize supply management processes by launching a new, standardized point of use solution in 2023 across our medsurg areas.

  • As back orders and disruptions continue to plague supply chain, we are launching a mobile app in January developed in partnership with our colleagues in IT that will provide end users access to disruptions that impact their inventory locations and orders.

  • We have a large, consolidated services center that we have successfully deployed for the distribution of medsurg supplies. In 2023, we are working to partner with a strategic supplier(s) of implants and/or other devices to centralize the ordering and management of implants in a pilot effort to create and share in operational cost efficiencies.

What has been your biggest accomplishment as chief supply chain officer?

BF: Much of the leadership team, including myself, joined shortly before or during the pandemic. Our collaboration helped ensure that our clinicians never went without critical PPE. I consider this the biggest accomplishment because the collaborative environment we established, and the trust developed with clinical and operational leaders as a result, continues to accelerate a myriad of strategic supply chain initiatives and projects.

If you could pass along a piece of advice to other hospital supply chain leaders, what would it be?

BF: Dedicate the time and resources to invest in viable data and accurate analytics so that your team has the business intelligence necessary to improve service levels, operate more efficiently and accentuate its impact on the organization. It also supports efforts to rationalize the allocation of resources to supply chain projects when you can point to the clinical, operational or financial impact of the effort.  

What's the best piece of leadership advice you ever received?

BF: The best leadership advice I've ever received was to ensure the high performing members of your team feel supported both in their day-to-day work and their long-term career goals. Championing someone's development and long-term goals, even if the long-term pursuit of those goals take them outside of your team or organization, fosters trust amongst the team and creates an environment where people find it rewarding to work hard and excel in their performance. In my prior and current roles, I've been fortunate to work for leaders that adhere to this style of leadership. I work to exhibit these same traits and encourage similar behavior amongst the leaders on our team.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars