Speaking of Supply Chain

What You Can Do Today to Avert the Next Supply Chain Crisis and Support Clinical Care
Li Ern Chen, MD
By Li Ern Chen, MD, SMI Strategic Advisor

The COVID-19 outbreak has the entire healthcare industry scrambling around personal protective equipment (PPE), critical care supplies and testing kits. While urgent meetings are being held to handle the current crisis, there is a looming crisis that we all must also prepare for. Worldwide manufacturing has been debilitated and the supply crisis will far outlast the current crisis. Supply Chain leaders should start planning now to ensure the continued ability to deliver care as supply shortages are encountered.

Labor shortages in China and other COVID-19 affected countries are expected to last many months, hampering the return of supply chains to the levels to which we are accustomed. Consider these potential consequences of the pandemic:

  • Production may ramp up for more profitable product lines first
  • Smaller companies will struggle more to come back online
  • Beyond manufacturing, distribution capacity constraints will be limiting

Here are a few things supply chain can do today to lead your clinicians in preparing for the ongoing supply shortages:   Understand your sourcing risk now by collaborating with your suppliers. Can you map your supply chain to its origin? What is your supplier’s pandemic plan? For which supplies is a shortage anticipated and when?  Share this information with your clinicians and help them understand what they can do today to preserve supplies for the longer tail of this crisis.

The supply chain organization serves the clinicians and patients. Clinicians are currently caught up in the urgent clinical response to COVID-19. They are not focused on the longer-term supply impact, though there will be no shortage of emotion when they find themselves unable to care for patients because supplies are unavailable. Mitigate this problem now. Discuss projected supply shortages with clinician leaders so that they can plan their clinical work. Supply Chain is in a unique position to lead through this supply crisis - you occupy a unique role at the center sharing information and driving effective decision making.

Suppliers - Supply Chain - Clinicians

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) has recognized that the COVID-19 outbreak is threatening our healthcare infrastructure; the overwhelmed supply chain will impact surgical procedures and the ACS has recommended surgeons review their case load in this light ( https://www.facs.org/about-acs/covid-19/information-for-surgeons ). You are a critical partner, enabling physicians to make the most informed decisions.

The time to collaborate with your suppliers and clinicians is now. 

SMI is taking action to help:

  1. I will be hosting a 15-30 minute “Huddle Call” next Thursday, March 26 at 4:00 ET. Members can join the conversation - what can we all be doing to support and educate our clinicians now and reduce the impact of downstream supply shortages?  Listen to this Huddle Call | Download the notes 
  2. SMI will soon start weekly “Huddle Calls” where members can participate in 30-minute discussions when its most convenient for them, to discuss and ask questions on topics pertaining to COVID-19. Details on these calls will be coming soon.

Working together and sharing knowledge is critical to averting the longer-term healthcare supply chain crisis.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

© Strategic Marketplace Initiative  |  PO Box 1318  |  Westborough, MA 01581  |  United States  |  508 - 732 - 0059  |  [email protected]
Follow SMI on Twitter Connect with SMI on LinkedIn View Webinars and other SMI Videos