As we settle into a new year, it’s natural to take time to reflect on what we’ve been through and to prepare for what lies ahead. Last year was full of twists and turns that fundamentally changed how our day-to-day life operates; simply put, some things may never be the same. While many industries will look back at 2020 and focus on the disruption and turmoil, we must also take the opportunity to learn from the problems that were exposed by the global pandemic.
We’re just beginning to emerge from the pandemic’s “Dark Winter” that we were warned about – a culmination of sorts after spending more than a year responding to urgent supply chain demands. With vaccine distribution improving, we expect the industry will continue to recover slowly throughout 2021 as we return to a new normal.
If our industry responds the right way, we can collectively seize this opportunity to create a healthcare procurement ecosystem that is more efficient, more capable of serving patients, and better able to withstand supply shortages created by unexpected spikes in demand, natural disasters and other calamities. So, as we look forward to 2021, how do we use the lessons learned from 2020 to build a more resilient and responsive healthcare supply chain?
Healthcare must continue to invest in its procurement process, given its increasingly crucial role enhancing patient care while ensuring supply preparedness and availability as the industry charges forward. At the same time, the adoption of just-in-time procurement models must be re-evaluated, buying at the lowest price must drive fewer procurement decisions and risk factors need to be taken more seriously.
Now that there is a greater appreciation for the critical importance of supply chain issues, we need to work toward the following:
- Improve demand planning: Hospitals, suppliers and manufacturers must work even more closely together so that the industry can better forecast the demand for clinical supplies.
- Implement risk mitigation strategies: A global supply chain is great – when price is your number one objective. But we live in a world full of geopolitical and environmental risks. Everything from hurricanes to civil wars can and will disrupt a global supply chain. At a minimum, hospitals relying on global sourcing need a backup sourcing plan for critical medical supplies.
- Modernize the Supply Chain technology footprint: Ordering medical supplies in today’s fast-changing world requires a framework for quick, clear decision making and execution. New tools allow hospital systems to drive purchasing decisions to preferred, approved options that meet quality standards while also creating cost efficiencies.
- Continuously monitor performance: Data sharing is at the heart of supply chain transparency. For healthcare this continues to be a significant obstacle given the number of stakeholders, trading partners and items under management. Better collaboration across the health care system will improve care for customers and benefit all stakeholders.
To address these challenges, there must be a shared responsibility across our trading networks from manufacturing to the point of patient care. We need transparent partnerships and open dialogue between manufacturers, distributors, GPO’s, healthcare providers, payers, and technology service providers to benefit the frontline workers delivering care.
Looking ahead, the public has set a high bar for healthcare systems to be more prepared, proactive and resilient. We can no longer focus simply on costs and savings. We need to set new expectations for an enhanced user journey with more readily available support, accurate information, and a modern digital supply chain experience. This is our time to shine as partners in healthcare. The past year, while stressful, complicated, and challenging, did offer valuable lessons to health systems. Pressure builds diamonds, and the innovation coming from suppliers and healthcare providers post 2020 and post-pandemic will be the largest digital transformation this industry has seen.
The supply chain should no longer be the prime target for health system leaders looking to cut costs. The truth is finally out – supply chain management is directly tied to the quality of care provided to the public.
After all, we are all responsible for ensuring our frontline responders are equipped with the personal protective equipment and medical products they need to provide world-class patient care. They deserve our best without worrying that their supplies will run out or they are being put at risk while doing their jobs because of an unforeseen natural or man-made disaster.
For more information, visit ProdigoSolutions.com.