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Checking the Blind Spot

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My recent experience looking for a new car has me thinking about the supply chain tools we use today.  I really like my SUV, but I want to see what’s out there while I can still get a good trade-in price.   I have 2 requirements for my car:  leather seats and Bluetooth capability – pretty basic.  I went to the dealer to check out the 2016 version of car I drive today.  It was REALLY nice.  It had my basic requirements, PLUS all these other really cool features – remote starter, built-in navigation, USB ports everywhere, built in DVD player, panoramic moonroof, and more.  The front seats were Zero Gravity with warming and cooling capability.  I was sold.  Forget about the basic requirements, I wanted the whole package. 

I absolutely hate going to the car dealer, so I started doing my research to make the trip as fast and painless as possible.  I used a few of those online price comparison tools.  They all showed me pretty much the same information - the price ranges in my geographic area for the car I want, and dealers near me that have it in stock.  Great information.  This new car is roughly $20,000 more than what we paid for our current car. $12,000 of that is due to the optional upgrades in the Platinum model.  My husband astutely pointed this out, and got me thinking about those extras I now “had to have”.   Since I love the car I have now, why do I need all those extra features?  A remote starter is now on my list of requirements (I live in New England for goodness sake!).  Other than that, do I really care if I have a panoramic moonroof?  I hardly use the double sunroof I have now.  My kids have their own devices now, so would we us the DVD players in the backseat?  What does “Zero Gravity seats” even mean?  Do they need to be cold?  Are all these features really worth the extra $12,000 I would have to pay?  I hate to admit it, but my husband was right.  I was blinded by the bells and whistles!  In order to make the best decision, I have to remember which the features I need and which features are just fluff. 

Then one day my friend pulls up in her new car.  It was a completely different car than the one I wanted, but it was very nice.  Her car had the features I need, AND it had a 3rd row.  I never really felt a 3rd row was necessary for our family, so I didn’t consider it for a new car either.  Now that my kids have more activities, carpooling would actually be a nice option.  When she told me how much she paid, I was floored – it was $10,000 less than the car I wanted.  $10,000 less for a car with everything I need and more room!  Why didn’t I consider this car before?

This made me think about the tools I was using.  They’re just like traditional price-benchmarking tools in healthcare.  They are very useful, but don’t give me the big picture.  I was only looking for the best price for that specific product – my Platinum SUV.  I did not understand total cost of that decision or other available options on the market that would provide the same functionality at lower cost.  While I was trying to do everything right I was missing so much!  I didn’t check my blind spot to make sure there wasn’t something there that I didn’t expect to see.  This kind of visibility would be helpful in car-buying, and in healthcare.  Once the end-user or clinician (me) identifies the required features, supply chain (my husband) can review the impact on overall cost (Platinum vs. SL model) and make sure all features are actually necessary.  We also need to know other products on the market with those same features – even outside the current manufacturer (my friend’s car).  Knowing what others use gives us more insight into what is possible, and potentially very useful (the 3rd row).  We need our analytics tools to help us check the blind spot and see the big picture outside of price alone.  They need to encourage us to look over our shoulder and make sure we’re not missing anything.  When we consider ALL options, even ones we’re not expecting, we are better able to make smarter choices.  In today’s healthcare environment, simply checking the mirrors is not enough.

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