Planning and preparing for supply chain disruptions in the healthcare sector  

By Roger Bourbonnais, Senior Vice President of Acute Care at Medline Canada, Corporation

In March 2020, when COVID-19 was beginning to shut down Canadian society, shelves in stores across the country quickly went empty. Businesses found themselves struggling to keep up with demand.

Since then, supply chain shortages have impacted multiples sectors, including healthcare. Labour disruptions and shortages, transportation problems, a lack of raw materials and rising inflation all intertwine to create this problem. It’s led to healthcare settings like hospitals “getting creative” with their supplies. [1] 

While getting creative is one way to weather problems in supply chains, setting up a smart system is also an effective way to tackle the issue. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Take control of how you buy

Supply costs are one of the biggest expenses for healthcare facilities. Consolidating o a single vendor is a proven way to lower costs. During this process, you could also consider product standardization to optimize quality-price value and improve practice consistency with a customized formulary focused on clinical outcomes over brand name.

Leverage your data

A lot of work goes into negotiating supply contracts and savings. Don’t let this hard work go to waste. Ensuring clinical staff order from those formularies, and that you’re getting the contracted price, is crucial. Additionally, building out software infrastructure so there’s realtime visibility into spend is another key step to ensure you’re optimally using the data you have.

Ensure you have good data

When you have a better handle on your data, you can better understand what’s going on in your supply chain. 56 per cent of CEOs say they are concerned about the integrity of the data they’re using for decision-making [2]. Collecting data and keeping it organized is vital. Equally as important is maintaining your datasets. This includes data cleansing; going through and ensuring everything is up to date and accurate.

Automating your processes 

Over and understocking, supply hoarding, expired products and labor-intensive manual restocking processes quickly drive-up operating expenses. By leveraging automated systems for inventory management, you have an opportunity to improve costs and simplify workflow. This could mean tracking and managing inventory to all care points within your system using a comprehensive platform powered by technology.

Tackling supply chain issues in healthcare can’t be a solo effort – leverage your supply partners to help you optimize foundational supply chain logistics, deliver operational excellence and strategically prepare for whatever supply chain impact happens next – whenever it happens.