Healthcare Supply Chain Disruptions in 2022

None of the usual causes of supply chain disruptions—winds, floods, fires, earthquakes etc.—compare to the global disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, we should expect the supply chain disruptions that started in 2020 to continue through 2022 with ongoing shipping, trucking and rail delivery congestion.

The concern about disruptions of medical supply chains is so great that, in August 2021, three leading medical supply chain trade associations sent a joint letter to the White House Supply Chain Disruption Task Force asking that they prioritize medical equipment and supplies in the national supply chain and transportation system.

Supply chain disruptions are a normal risk of doing business. During minor disruptions, successful organizations can maintain inventory levels with their usual management strategies. But the global supply chain disruptions of 2020 revealed the dangers of limiting supply networks to only one or two providers and maintaining just-in-time (JIT) inventory without an emergency stockpile. 

The Capgemini Research Institute recently surveyed 1000 manufacturers to gather data about the consequences of the 2020 supply chain disruptions in various industries. More than half of the total survey respondents took 3 to 6 months to recover from supply chain disruptions. Close to 40% of respondents from the health sector (vendors of pharmaceuticals, biotech and healthcare equipment) reported needing more than three months to recover. 

A supply chain service protects organizations during supply chain disruptions

Three months or more of supply chain disruption is a long time in any industry, but in the healthcare industry, lives may be endangered if the right medical equipment and supplies are not readily available for healthcare workers and patients. The Capgemini survey shows that more healthcare organizations could benefit from an upgrade in their supply chain technology and network. 

A common danger for organizations during supply chain disruptions is the increase in disreputable vendors. For example, it can be difficult for healthcare providers in the U.S. to verify a new vendor’s connections with overseas manufacturers, their capacity to deliver the quantities of supplies promised, or the quality of the products delivered. 

Partnering with a medical supply chain service can reduce the risk of your organization encountering fraud and other risks that come with supply chain disruptions. A well-established supply chain service uses advanced technology to access its wide global network of vetted, digitally linked suppliers. Supply chain management software with end-to-end transparency constantly gathers and analyzes data to monitor the inventory of the entire supply chain in real time. Through this analysis, the software can predict and mitigate supply disruptions and offer suggestions to build resilience in an organization's supply chain. 

A supply chain service protects healthcare workers and patients during supply chain disruptions

Reputable medical supply chain companies guard against counterfeit goods entering the supply chain. They also monitor FDA and manufacturer websites for safety recalls and watch for changes in national regulations concerning the supplies they sell. Let’s look at a couple of examples of how these safeguards could work.

In 2020, counterfeit and low-quality personal protective equipment (PPE) became a common danger in the medical supply chain. A well-publicized example of the prevalence of counterfeit products is reported by 3M, manufacturer of a popular N95 respirator. 3M publishes a running tally on its website of the number of counterfeit 3M products seized during COVID-19 fraud investigations. As of December 2021, 3M states over 55 million counterfeit respirators have been confiscated.

A reputable supply chain service works with only trusted manufacturers and verified vendors who sell legitimate products. Their procurement experts can spot fraudulent products, even well-disguised counterfeits - and prevent them from slipping into your inventory.

Another example of increased safety risks during a supply chain disruption is the temporary relaxation of regulations. A strategy the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used in 2020 to ease PPE shortages was to grant emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for certain Chinese-made KN95 respirators. By June 2021, domestically made masks were readily available again, so the FDA revoked the emergency use authorizations in healthcare settings for these Chinese-made respirators. A medical supply chain service would know to flag these products after the EUAs had expired and stop their healthcare customers from purchasing them.

Concordance Healthcare Solutions is a proven supply chain partner 

Despite one of the worst supply chain disruptions in history, Concordance Healthcare Solutions continues to come through for our customers. We use smart stockpile management, an extensive network of manufacturers and our robust data analytics software systems to make sure our customers’ supply orders are filled and delivered. Concordance is prepared for future challenges, whether they come from continuing supply chain bottlenecks or spikes in demand due to COVID variants or the seasonal flu. 

Contact us to discuss your supply chain goals and how we can help you develop a more resilient supply chain strategy.   

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