Celebrating 25 years of patient-focused service

Monday, September 18, 2017

“Nobody believed that you could purchase capital equipment as a group,” says Jay. “We proved it could be done.” 

How the vision began


When CAPsource and MEALsource Director Jay Ayres, began his career in the manufacturing sector, he found himself working in an industry with a moral compass that mostly pointed towards the bottom line. At the time, he was looking for somewhere to work where he could make a difference in other people’s lives. His desire to support others has never wavered and, in fact, has flourished for the past 25 years in a group purchasing organization that is patient-focused and where profits are returned to the participating healthcare members.


He got a great start at St. Joseph’s Health System as a Materials Manager helping to lead the distribution stores and streamlining systems. After realizing the process needed to be much more efficient Jay helped put the foundation together for purchasing healthcare equipment and food for multiple locations. After being given one month to create a plan, Jay envisioned a Capital and Nutrition group for the St. Joseph’s system. On September 21st , 1992,  what was to become CAPsource and MEALsource was born.


 The early prognosis


Jay and his team worked with representatives from each location of the St. Joseph’s Health System for advice and recommendations. 


The resulting changes greatly enhanced the purchasing model by bringing all of the potential purchasers together in one location. This added efficiency secured the vendor community’s support. Good news travels quickly in the medical supply chain and soon St. Joseph’s Group Purchasing Organization (GPO) was fielding calls from hospitals across Ontario.


The support CAPsource and MEALsource received in those early days allowed Jay to focus on efficiency, savings, implementation and patient benefit. Those values helped CAPsource add many new members to make it even more mutually beneficial as it grew. 


The biggest winner would always be the patient that benefited from the enhanced technology made available to them. The next four years would see CAPsource add over 100 non-member hospitals from multiple provinces across the country.


2010 - The biggest growth phase


Following 12 years of consistent performance and efficiencies, the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO) chose St. Joseph’s GPO as the Bid Administrator for a 2-year pilot project to evaluate the benefits of jointly purchased equipment through consolidation. 


The results were unprecedented and exceeded all expectations. By leveraging the immense purchasing power of a group like CAHO, CAPsource was able to achieve almost 10% savings against original estimates, followed by additional savings applied to ongoing service and operating costs. 


It was around this time that St. Joseph’s Health System, Group Purchasing Organization transitioned into CAPsource and MEALsource. CAPsource was an army of 5 by then – highly passionate and engaged in providing patient focused benefits for any one of their member hospitals. 


An example of what that buying power could do is this; By participating in a group purchasing initiative, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) had originally budgeted for 16-slice MRI/CT scanners, at an anticipated savings of 10%. What CAPsource delivered was an actual savings of 25% with all hospitals receiving a much more advanced system at 64-slice technology. At the completion of this RFP,  Ontario had more 64-slice technology available for use than any other province, state or territory in North America. This type of improvement can literally save lives.


CAPsource Pioneered Advancements in Procurement


One of the secrets to their success is that they are a small, dedicated group of dynamic experts that do the work of many more. While the medical industry continues to change, the group sees very little turnover, in fact, none in the last few years. Together, they have pioneered many firsts in the Industry.


  • Amongst the most impactful, was the adoption of the centralized vendor fair as part of the evaluation process for an Request for Proposal (RFP). It was a game-changer. For the first time, unaffiliated hospitals, both large and small and with varying needs could come together in a distraction free environment and actually touch, feel and assess the capabilities of the equipment they were looking to buy.  
  •  Add to this, the benefit to the vendor community – who no longer had to travel to multiple hospitals and conduct multiple presentations – the hospitals all came to one spot, enabling the vendors to present to multiple customers at once. Elevating the intensity of the evaluation process led to greater savings – greater savings led to an improvement in proactive planning. Once hospitals knew they could save money and offer better technology to their patients by participating in group RFPs, it made it much easier to plan for capital purchases in advance. Everyone benefited, most of all the patients. 
  •  St. Joseph’s GPO was one of the first to utilize a centralized shared information portal. Using the portal, CAPsource and MEALsource was able to digitize and tabulate vendor information, record meeting minutes, add instructional information and address questions, seamlessly across the entire group. Access to a shared portal kept everyone up to date and informed, which in turn led to RFPs being completed faster than ever. 
  •  Efficiencies did not stop there. CAPsource and MEALsource have always adhered to the Broader Public Sector (BPS) Procurement Directive and have exceeded the most stringent global standards for trade. They have been influential in establishing best practices in legal processes that have improved the ease of participation. This was never more evident than when they began to include Infrastructure Ontario (IO) projects into their regularly scheduled RFPs. Few projects in Canada are more complex than an IO project - and with the help, support and leadership provided by the team at CAPsource, the added volume gained by adapting to include IO, increased the benefit received by the communities and patients they serve.


Our outreach program gives back


 The CAPsource and MEALsource team are proud to be a part of helping people locally and globally get access to medical equipment that might not otherwise be available to them.


Outreach is a program whereby aging and retired medical supplies and technology is donated to countries in need. Over 68 sea containers full of equipment have been distributed to such areas as Uganda, Haiti, Jerusalem and Guyana to name a few. 


“I’ve had the luxury of being involved in a program called Outreach,” says Jay,  Director of CAPsource and MEALsource, “I’ve stood in countries and watched people lying in the grass and dying while waiting for access to proper care. When you are in that environment and come home, you see what resources we have and you never take it for granted. Knowing that one day you’ll have a family member that will rely on the latest and greatest technology available. It gets into your blood. When you care about the patient’s health, first and foremost, it guides the business decisions.”


The next 25 years: Greater value in value-based procurement


Going forward, CAPsource and MEALsource plan to utilize emerging technology to continually streamline the capital equipment and meal purchasing process, while continuing to grow the membership they serve. As the membership can attest - the more, the merrier. Improved efficiency results in greater rebates to the member facilities and greater technology to the patients.


Many thanks 


25 years would never be possible without the aid and support of some key people. CAPsource and MEALsource would like to acknowledge the invaluable support of Brian Guest. Brian was there from the start and had the trust and faith in Jay to let him do what he does best – more with less. Brian was able to navigate the committees and push progress, while Jay and the team developed new concepts and savings.


We would like to extend a special thank you to all of the system members. None of this is possible without your trust and commitment to the end results. The same can be said for the CAPsource and MEALsource team and in particular, Annette Senko, the Assistant Director. Her commitment and dedication to our members and the patients they serve is humbling.