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Transforming Healthcare: Jason Lovell's Take on the Premier Annual Breakthroughs Conference and Exhibition

By August McLaughlin

This June, thousands of professionals will gather in the name of transforming healthcare. Over the course of several days in National Harbor, Maryland, attendees will have the chance to mix, mingle, build relationships, trouble-shoot, strategize and more.

We recently chatted with Jason Lovell, the National Sales Director in Healthcare at Office Depot, to learn more about this unique conference, how attendees can make the most of their experience, and what Office Depot will bring to the event.

In a nutshell, what is the primary goal of the conference?

It’s an opportunity to collaborate with Premier’s 4,300 members – from a company’s finance division to their supply team or procurement division, and the members associated with these roles. Memberships consist of major hospital systems, professionals from clinics, physicians’ offices, ambu
latory surgery centers and so forth.
It’s that one time a year when Premiere brings its members together. We have the opportunity to collaborate and network with them, showcase more of our capabilities, our products and our services – traditionally something we wouldn’t get to do throughout the year.

What is your and Office Depot’s role with the conference?

There are multiple roles. Yes it’s a chance to network with specific individuals, but we also have a trade show and an Office Depot booth.

At the booth, we showcase some of our specific categories outside of traditional office supplies such as furniture, technology, cleaning and breakroom supplies. We also bring along specialists in these categories so that we can answer specific questions to hopefully provide greater opportunities to network across the members.

What does the conference mean to the healthcare industry?

Over the last few years with the Affordable Healthcare Act, the healthcare industry has had to control costs. So during this event, we get to hear about what’s changing within healthcare, what’s going on within the individual medical systems, what they’re looking to change or to improve within their systems, the quality of care they provide and how we can help them reduce their costs.

As a key business partner to these hospital systems, we have to understand what they’re looking for when they talk about change, costs, savings and efficiencies, and need to adapt so that we can take care of our responsibilities more efficiently.

The conference seems to prioritize actionable takeaways that attendees can apply straight away. Why is this important?

Many of the key decision-makers, influencers, and people within a hospital system are looking for key relationships from the 500-plus suppliers who attend. As they stop by, there’s going to be tangible opportunities such as new contracts or information on specific product lines. Maybe they’re looking to build out a new hospital system and they’re looking for a furniture partner for multiple locations. Those tangible opportunities will give us the opportunity to work with individual members and drive new programs.

The conference attracts people with a broad range of backgrounds and vocations. What are the benefits of such diversity?

When we have the opportunity to network with individuals from different segments and backgrounds, it gives us a chance to showcase some of our categories outside of traditional office supplies.

For example, if someone is from a facilities department, we can team them up with our furniture team or possibly our janitorial and cleaning/breakroom division to explore relevant opportunities. At other shows, it might be just someone from the procurement division, who may not be able to answer specific questions or discover the opportunities.

What major challenges in healthcare does the conference plan to address?

Many of the challenges involve how we can identify the customer’s needs and wants. If a company is looking to drive out costs and improve efficiencies, we have to be able to understand specifically what they’re looking for from a big picture standpoint to drive out those costs – and then really pinpoint the areas of efficiency where we can best help them.

The event encourages attendees to share ideas for healthcare transformation. Why is this important?

Within the network of 4300 members, there are opportunities for organizations to showcase white papers, or their specific projects that they’ve worked on through breakout sessions. Members from different hospital systems, as well as suppliers like Office Depot, are able to sit in on those breakout sessions and listen to success stories, learn about initiatives they’re working on, and adapt the best practices from others.

What types of Office Depot healthcare products and services will the conference highlight?

We’ll highlight what we call our adjacencies. These are products that fall out of the traditional office product line. They consist of furniture systems – everything from your traditional desks, files, and chairs to items for your cubicle and even lavatory-specific furniture within a hospital system. This can even include cleaning, breakroom products and beverage systems.

Today, one of the major drivers is our coffee programs. So we might have partners with our private label coffee, Flavia and Keurig, showcase some of their capabilities. We’ll also showcase our tech capabilities as related to larger IT systems and moveable workstations in the IT segment.

Any tips for preparing for the conference – for attendees to maximize their experience?

Prior to the Breakthroughs event, Premier sends out a list of all the attendees and exhibitors to the registered guests. If you are going for the first time as an exhibitor, being introduced to potentially 4300 members can be a little overwhelming.

It’s best to review the list of attendees and do your homework on your top 10-15 members. Know what’s going on within their organization and any recent changes that could be included in your conversations or the value you can bring their initiatives.

If you could share one piece of advice with attendees, what would it be?


Don’t be overwhelmed. Just take it all in. You don’t have to do and see everyone in the three-and-a-half-day period. Focus on the quality of the opportunities that you have with specific individuals and enjoy the show.  

*interview was edited for brevity and clarity

About the Author

August McLaughlin is a nationally recognized health writer with over 10 years of experience as a certified nutritionist. Her work is featured in DAME Magazine, Healthy Aging magazine, the Huffington Post and more. She holds specializations in eating disorders and sports nutrition and loves connecting with readers via her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

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