As an organisation that puts its people and the community at the forefront of its decisions, UnitingCare understands the importance of leveraging modern technology and innovation to achieve success in the healthcare industry.
Michael Gillin, General Manager Procurement and Services, has overseen how UnitingCare has established and maintained a well-managed strategic function across the business. Having previously worked in management consulting roles at KPMG which took Gillin to Brisbane, Australia, from the UK in 2011, he joined UnitingCare in April 2017. Gillin believes that his previous experience truly laid the groundwork for success in his role with UnitingCare. “A lot of the work I did with KPMG was large-scale global business transformations and most of it was focused around procurement, supply chain and cost reduction,” says Gillin. “In a procurement role, one of the major things that you need to do is engage with suppliers and business stakeholders. With major reform occurring in the aged, health and community sectors, UnitingCare has had to innovate and make the necessary changes to respond to change. I think my experience in supporting the organisation through that change has afforded me a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.”
Innovation in the care sector
Earlier this year, UnitingCare held a successful Supplier Innovation Tradeshow and Showcase in Queensland, led by Daniela Kerr, Procurement Specialist at UnitingCare. The event exceeded expectations, with over 50 of UnitingCare’s key suppliers attending the trade show. “The theme of the show was sustainability and innovation and there were lots of advanced technologies from different suppliers showcasing new, innovative products and services,” explains Gillin. “The feedback from everyone in attendance has been fantastic and it made all the hard work worthwhile.”
Having centred its expo around innovation, Gillin affirms how important it is to continue to develop its services and facilities. “Innovation is absolutely critical to us and was a key focus of our expo.” UnitingCare’s network of hospitals continue to excel in being recognised for their clinical expertise and use of cutting-edge medical technology. Last year, UnitingCare’s Wesley Hospital was internationally recognised as Australia’s first Centre of Excellence in Robotic Surgery, one of only 10 hospitals worldwide at the time and recently opened a new Emergency Centre at Buderim Private on the Sunshine Coast.
“In our aged, community and disability business units we have developed an affordable housing strategy and implementation plan, designed and implemented innovative programs to support children and families in foster and kinship care,” explains Gillin. “We have continued to provide expertise to support clients transitioning to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) including the roll-out of digital applications to assist clients with their NDIS plan management. From a procurement and supply chain aspect, we’re interested in the innovation our suppliers can bring into our organisation.”
Making a difference
As a not-for-profit organisation, Gillin affirms UnitingCare’s operations are underpinned and guided by its mission to support people to life a full life regardless of their circumstance. “I believe we’re an organisation with a heart. I love that we’re an organisation with a social purpose and it gives me a sense of pride to know what I'm doing is contributing to something very meaningful.”
With technology transforming the way companies worldwide conduct business, Gillin understands the value of implementing it into UnitingCare’s procurement strategy. “I think it’s really important that we try to get an end-to-end solution from our sourcing platform to our contract and supplier management platforms. We've currently got about three or four different solutions that work across processes and they're not all integrated,” he says. “Data is a bit of a challenge at the moment and is critical for us to understand demand so that we can support the business to be more operationally efficient and competitive because the industries in which we operate are continuing to go through large changes so it’s vital that we work out where we fit into that.”
Having formed mutually beneficial partnerships with a range of companies in order to achieve and sustain success, Gillin reflects on what his organisation looks for when deciding to embark on a new venture. “I believe a good partner is one that's aligned to your values and your objectives. It’s a company that’s proactive with you and not just providing a service; it’s coming to you with ideas and challenging the way that you do things to help you improve.”
After establishing important partnerships with Accenture and Bunzl, Gillin affirms UnitingCare’s collaboration with the two companies are very beneficial. “Led by our Chief Financial Officer Peter Gunn, we have recently implemented a procurement hub, which consists of eight Uniting entities across Australia working collaboratively together to deliver procurement benefits,” explains Gillin. “Accenture are our partner and are responsible for running the hub for us. They've been brought on board to bring the organisations together and to run procurement and supply chain initiatives with the goal of reducing costs,” he says. “Bunzl is also a strategic partner to the Uniting Care business; it supports us as one of our major distributers that services around 500 sites across all of Queensland and the Northern Territory. It’s important that we partner with a supplier that understands our needs and the importance of getting product to our residents, patients and clients in a timely matter to help support their needs.”
Looking to the future, Gillin has a clear idea of where he anticipates UnitingCare to be over the coming years. “UnitingCare have devised a 2030 strategy which has given us direction around our key focus areas. We’ve got a clear direction of where we want to be, but to be successful it really comes down to people. It's great to have strategies and become more digital, but it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the fact that we provide care, support and health services to people in need,” says Gillin. “The key is to keep the people we look after at the forefront of everything we're doing. We are driven to making sure any investment provides the most benefit to our front-line staff and the people that we serve.”