Troop Support Medical, DHA leaders discuss ways to strengthen partnership

By Janeen Hayes DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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Senior leaders from both the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Medical supply chain and the Defense Health Agency met Feb. 19 in Philadelphia to discuss the agencies’ relationship and future collaboration.

While the supply chain serves as the medical logistics provider for the Defense Department, it relies heavily on organizations like DHA to help identify requirements and where to focus efforts, Army Col. Alex Zotomayor, Medical director, told the DHA contingency.

The Medical supply chain has partnered with DHA since its inception in 2013.

DHA is a joint, integrated combat support agency that enables military health systems to provide affordable and high quality health services to military members and their beneficiaries, according to its website.

The visit was an opportunity for Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, who took charge of DHA in October 2015, to learn more about how the Medical supply chain and DHA work together to support the warfighter.

“As I come in the DHA, I realize we have some great partners with the DLA,” Bono said. “This is one of our more mature shared services within the DHA and you really make us look good. So thank you for that.”

Bono stated that she was interested in learning what DHA can do to advance agency performance by learning DLA Troop Support’s best practices. Zotomayor, Geneva Polini, Medical deputy director, and other supply chain senior leaders briefed Bono on the relationship between the two agencies.

“We support you both tactically and strategically,” Polini said. “DLA is your logistics enabler. That is really what we are here to do for you.”  DHA and DLA provide the only DOD joint, integrated, end-to-end logistics management systems, Polini stated.

The benefits of this partnership are mutual.

“DLA is your logistics enabler and you are our largest logistics partner,” Polini said. “You provide us the clinical core competencies that we don’t have. We have pharmacists, bio-medical engineers and some product specialists, but we still rely on you for that support to make decisions.”

One of the areas Medical supports is DHA’s Home Delivery Program.

In March 2013, the projected sales for the program were $18.5 billion, with $954 million in savings, over 10 years, Dave Johns, Medical director of supplier operations, said. To date, savings are already at $288 million, 61 percent ahead of plan projections.

“As the customer moves further and further towards mail order pharmacy, that number will continue to go up,” he said. “We expect the numbers to continue to grow.”

The DHA/DLA five-year engagement plan covers a full range of e-commerce programs and supporting infrastructure, including pharmaceutical and medical surge prime vendor, and national contract programs.

“Our ultimate goal is to supply exceptional (logistics) support so it can be completely transparent to the clinicians so they can concentrate on what they do best, which is deliver good patient outcomes,” Air Force Lt. Col. Mary Ann Garbowski, chief of the DHA medical supply management branch, said. “DLA Medical, I believe, encompasses looking at all (DHA’s) goals collectively in helping us move forward.”

The plan not only focuses on larger acquisition programs like prime vendor and national contracts but also gives visibility to other areas such as the electronic catalog systems and information technology.

“For the niche market products that aren’t normally serviced by prime vendor, the plan really calls for an expanded use of the DLA Electronic Catalog,” Garbowski said. “We’re really working with DLA Medical to extend that range of (electronic catalog) into areas such as orthopedics, spinal and cardio vascular.”

Through these initiatives, Bono said the bottom line is ensuring the customer gets what is needed, at the highest quality and in a timely fashion.

“I understand now where so much of DHA’s success is founded on and how (DLA) helps advance that,” she added. “Whatever you need on our end to continue driving forward and getting it so that we both can synergize off each other and really get to a better product, better process, I’m in.”