If you’ve been in the industry for even a few years, you know that natural disasters can disrupt our global supply chain with postponed or delayed deliveries, closed ports and canceled cargo flights. These acute effects can create an imbalance in supply and demand. Some supply chains can even come to a temporary standstill. However, while natural disasters can cause short-term supply chain interruptions, global pandemics may have long-term impacts.
As we’ve seen with the COVID-19 pandemic—including this secondary surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths—the increase in demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) has led to an increasing strain on healthcare supply chains. While the pandemic initially had an acute effect on supply chains, we’ve now seen its lasting, chronic effects. Ongoing concern about back-orders, product substitution, allocation schedules and shipping delays, continues to affect the ability to provide proper protection to patients and staff.
While it’s impossible to change what’s already occurred, healthcare organizations must continue to put in the work necessary to bolster their supply chain management for the future. Improving supply chain efficiency can address some of these temporary shortcomings and prepare for long-term success. Here are three ways to build a stronger, more efficient healthcare supply chain.
1. Form strategic partnerships throughout the entire supply chain
An efficient supply chain is crucial at all times, but even more so in times of an ongoing pandemic. While natural disasters expose specific elements of supply chain weakness, pandemics test the integrity of the entire supply chain. Coordination throughout each stage of the chain is even more important during a pandemic.
There are numerous stakeholders involved, including manufacturers, distributors, freight carriers, hospitals, IDNs, GPOs etc. To prepare for future events, it’s important to strategically coordinate efforts with stakeholders across the entire chain. Forming key partnerships and strategic relationships with suppliers and other entities can help improve coordination and combat supply shortages.
2. Reassess stockpiling needs
Being prepared for the unknown is an important part of any supply chain management program, and stockpiling should always be part of these preparations. Stockpiling PPE and other supplies is an important step in ensuring that facilities have the necessary resources, should a large-scale patient surge occur. The medical supplies and equipment contained in a stockpile can be used as a short-term buffer when immediate supply is unavailable or unreliable in situations like a natural disaster or global pandemic. Both temporary strains from disasters and long-term standstills can be mitigated with efficient stockpiling management.
However, in order to reduce space, excess stockpiling activity often needs to be in an off-site location. It also requires effective, proactive management utilizing a “first in-first out”usage protocol to avoid waste from exceeding expiration dates and functional loss. While this approach can provide more control over backup inventory levels, it also presents its own cost outlay to lease warehousing space and add personnel to receive, stack, store, retrieve and deliver products to the facility. In essence, this means that you are becoming your own distributor.
3. Vetting new suppliers
If suppliers don’t live up to your standards, your organization may receive unsatisfactory or clinically unacceptable products for your patients and staff. From delayed orders to low-quality products, inconsistent vendors can cause unnecessary hiccups in your supply chain operations. Therefore, you need to “vet” any new supplier you are considering using. To ensure you’re selecting the right vendors and suppliers, you must first decide on your goals from each relationship. You’ll need to identify potential partners to engage with at specific stages of the supply chain. Then you will need to check with other professionals in your network regarding their experiences with the potential supplier to ensure that the level of service they provide will meet your needs.
The Concordance Healthcare Solution
Concordance continues to provide the supplies needed for front-line healthcare workers.
- Concordance is constantly searching for, and partnering with, new product sources across the globe to ensure that we have the products our customers need and with logistics companies to ensure that they get them in a timely fashion. By focusing on improving the supply chain now, we’re establishing the foundation for a more efficient supply chain in the future.
- Concordance has developed a StrategicStorage™ program, designed to receive, store, and secure stockpiled product so that healthcare organizations have better oversight. Whether you need temporary or long-term storage, StrategicStorage™ is designed to pick up, deliver and, if necessary, quarantine, monitor and rotate date-sensitive materials. Improving your stockpiling management helps bolster your immediate response to the global pandemic and increases your preparedness in future emergencies without incurring massive additional costs.
- We encourage you to “vet” us. We are proud of our long history of providing quality distribution services throughout the continuum of care and our geographic expansion nationwide. At Concordance Healthcare Solutions, we distinguish ourselves with our flexibility and eagerness and lead with our purpose to Positively Impact Lives™.
To stay updated on developments in the healthcare supply chain during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond, we encourage you to subscribe to the Concordance blog.