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9/19/2002
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Executive Forum:
The Value Of A Health-Care Supply Chain

Collaboration and technical innovation are keys to service.

On Sept. 11, 2001, our chairman, Gil Minor, and our IT team were in Tucson, Ariz., at the announcement of the InformationWeek 500 awards. Owens & Minor was humbled to be honored as No. 1. But it wasn't a day to celebrate. With the gracious help of the Westin La Paloma, we tied into the hotel's Ethernet network and set up a command center for our business. As a medical supplier to the U.S. military, National Guard, and businesses in New York and Washington, we were intimately involved in the immediate crisis and subsequently sent medical supplies overseas to our troops.

We owe our customers, partners, and teammates the resilience and agility to transcend any tragedy, economic downturn, and crisis in business confidence. At the core of how we serve are the technology innovations and collaborative business practices for which we were recognized by InformationWeek. Owens & Minor has been devoted to service in health care for more than 120 years. Technology, service, and ethics are the cornerstones of our approach to the market.

Health care in the United States is strained with medical errors, staffing shortages, aging facilities, and escalating costs with fixed reimbursements. How can Owens & Minor contribute innovative technology solutions and collaborative strategies that will alleviate these concerns for our customers?

We spent the past 18 months working with vendors to deliver an integrated solution to customers that we call "a clinically driven value chain." Cerner Corp., a leading supplier of clinical systems for hospitals, has been instrumental in helping develop this innovative solution for our mutual customers.

When a patient comes in for care, a clinician performs a diagnosis and a set of procedures is scheduled. Using this information in the hospital's clinical systems, Owens & Minor can be much more precise delivering medical supplies that are customized for the clinician, patient, and procedure. The innovative information sharing this integrated delivery model makes possible has dramatic potential for positively impacting patient outcomes and reducing patient errors.

Lawson Software Inc. is a leading ERP systems supplier for hospitals to manage inventories. However, lack of integration causes hospitals to rely on their distributors' systems to perform vital supply-chain functions. We're in the process of seamlessly integrating our systems with Lawson's for the mutual benefit of our customers. Integration to supplier systems is also vital. Our hospital customers can seamlessly tie into the Kimberly-Clark product database to access additional information not maintained within our company.

Owens & Minor remains committed to delivering a clinically driven value chain for health care using our award-winning technology solutions and partners to revolutionize the delivery of collaborative health-care technology. Forces work against us in our world, but they should never be allowed to stand in the way of our mission to continue to serve our customers, our industry, and our nation. Our collective resilience is what makes our nation strong.

David Guzmán is senior VP and CIO at Owens & Minor.

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