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Expect The Unexpected – 4 Tips for National Supply Chain Week

It’s National Supply Chain Week – so let’s take a moment to consider the important role played by materials managers in patient care.

During the pandemic, supply chain teams worked miracles – locating alternative suppliers, finding substitute stocks, and bringing in items from other departments or hospitals.

With hindsight though, the supply chain was always vulnerable, and there’s currently a real appetite to prevent future global events from having such a dramatic effect on the supply of hospital inventory.

 

Four ways to build a more resilient healthcare supply chain:

 

1. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED: Contingency planning goes mainstream

Now that we are out of the eye of the COVID storm, healthcare providers are addressing lessons learned from the pandemic, aiming to future-proof the healthcare supply chain.

Hospital leadership is looking towards a more agile supply chain, seeking a better balance between competitive pricing and resilience. They want to ensure there’s room for greater choice in a volatile global market.

It’s not just about identifying alternative suppliers and products – hospital systems and workflows need to be able to cope with greater supply chain flexibility. Basic issues need to be considered, like how substitute items can be tracked, or how the Item Master can keep up with a greater variety of SKUs.

Evolving systems need to work on an operational level, but once this groundwork is done, the reward is a more responsive system, better prepared for change.

 

2. STOP WORKING BLIND! Improve your organizational vision

 

While surgery rooms are full of gleaming, beeping high-tech tools, the back-office hospital logistics function has historically suffered from a lack of investment.

Manual, outdated systems provide limited visibility of the stock at hand and this hinders materials managers.

Organizational issues also cause impaired vision as there is a tendency for healthcare organizations to work in siloes. Operations and Logistics are often treated as two separate entities when in fact they are part of the same supply chain cycle and each has a part to play.

Impaired vision affects efficiency, for example;

  • Supply chain staff have to plan using incomplete data, due to inefficient item tracking in clinical areas.
  • Physician preference items are ordered without any commercial considerations.

 

One point driven home after COVID is that operational activities underpin clinical performance. A lack of joined-up thinking leads to increased costs, inefficiencies, delays, and wastage.

Hospitals and ASCs are now revisiting their workflows and tools, looking to create an automated, clinically-integrated hospital supply chain that delivers improved cost-effective patient care.

 

3. END THE GUESSWORK: Recognize the value of data

Managing the supply chain without meaningful data analytics is like working with one hand tied behind your back.

In a 2020 survey*1 hospital leaders recognized the value of supply chain analytics:

  • 97% of respondents said data has a positive impact on the cost
  • 75% indicated it improved quality
  • 70% saw the contribution of data on value-based care.
  • 59% felt data analytics could lead to improved staff satisfaction and retention.

 

Data delivers a double benefit:

  • Day-to-day management: Enhanced operational capabilities – full inventory visibility, tracking, and control.
  • Forecasting for the future: Improved, data-driven planning – based on improved insight, informed predictions

 

Simply put, data matters – there’s no room for systems that don’t deliver timely, comprehensive data.

 

4. WORK SMARTER: New health-tech tools reduce OR admin

There are so many advancements in health tech – it’s worth keeping an eye out for time-saving tools. New technology is being used to create smarter, quicker ways to cut through hospital bureaucracy and automate previously labor-intensive tasks.

  • Did you know that you can now get an individual weight-based, wireless PAR bin? A single bin that can be placed wherever you need it – that’s easy to reconfigure with different stock and which self-replenishes?
  • Are you aware that point-of-care data capture for ALL chargeable items needn’t take longer than 3 seconds? It’s a supply chain manager’s dream – as items don’t need to be on the item master to be documented! Stock from new suppliers, substitute items and trunk stock – which may be missing from the source of truth – can still be captured without all the usual fuss – and retroactively added to the Item Master.

 

New technological surgical solutions are reducing the supply chain admin carried out by logistics and nursing staff.

 

This National Supply Chain Week, why not do more than make noise – it’s time to give your supply chain heroes the tools they need for the job.

 

 

 

 

*1 Hospital Leaders Say COVID-19 Is Making Supply Chain Optimization A Top Priority (healthitoutcomes.com)

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