I have been studying how supply chains broke down during the early days of the pandemic, and how communities across the country mobilised to keep healthcare facilities operational in the face of unprecedented supply shortages. Most hospitals rely on GPOs to handle contracts, according to the Healthcare Supply Chain Association. Healthcare supply chain leaders are making effective use of micro-analytics, data on individual procedures. Automation-driven supply chain management, with standardised processes, allows healthcare organisations to optimise the skill sets of their supply chain personnel, shifting their core tasks from reactive to proactive.
Healthcare supply chains are under pressure to reduce costs due to digital business, changing customer needs and new competition. This increases the total cost of the healthcare supply chain, which already accounts for an average of 37.3 the total cost of patient care. Manufacturers often struggle to move inventory through their supply chains in a timely manner. Inundated with calls, overwhelmed staff respond by creating electronic mailboxes or simply posting needs on their websites, which ultimately hinders both healthcare facilities and suppliers trying to provide PPE.
However, the enormous challenge of supply chain management today is not only to procure the equipment and supplies needed for high quality patient care, but also to improve value, reduce costs and integrate physician input. An end-to-end equipment management company that can create a partnership between supply chain, clinical engineering and nursing can reveal powerful insights into these costs, leading to longer device life, reduced parts costs and higher overall utilisation. Novel designs from inexperienced suppliers are more likely to be ineffective, uncomfortable or even unsafe. Local suppliers are often able to respond more quickly and flexibly to changing needs than centralised supply sources.
The best supply chain leaders are accelerating investments in people and processes to strengthen clinical alignment, which involves listening to and collaborating with end users. Chung acknowledges that there is a history of misunderstanding around clinical integration and supply chain, as clinicians often see it as purely transactional. Leading companies address these issues by intelligently segmenting their supply chains according to product characteristics and customer requirements.