29 Jun Breaking the chain for a networked approach to healthcare
by Jayneel Patel
To better navigate today’s distribution challenges, the healthcare industry needs to break the (supply) chain and move toward digital supply networks.
Not long ago, the only option for industries was to build their business around a linear supply chain that followed a distinct progression of actions that moved product from the material suppliers to manufacturers, distributors, and ultimately to consumers. One track, one pace.
Now industries across the board have moved their operations to an AI-tech-based, interconnected system that seamlessly integrates new partners and new data-rich processes into their distribution model. It’s literally expanding their reach while reducing costs. But is it a feasible option for the HLS industry? Yes, indeed.
In our experience with digital transformation in the HLS industry, we’ve seen well-orchestrated implementation strategies fall short of expectations because of an archaic supply chain. When you compare innovations in other industries, it sheds light on the possibilities a new interconnected, analytics-based distribution and services model can present to HLS.
To put it simply, if someone, anywhere in the world, can buy an icy cold Coca-Cola or call somebody on their cell phone from where they stand, but can’t get a cold pack during a doctor’s visit or get a prescription for acetaminophen, it’s time for a new perspective on supply chain management.
As you consider digital transformation, here are three common and impactful indicators from moving operations away from a linear supply chain model to one that works with digital implementation to create a digital supply network that coordinates data with existing pipelines and other delivery services for a more holistic view of the distribution model, provides end-to-end visibility, and provides seamless agile responses when needed.
Holistic view identifies gaps in delivery systems
Thoughtful coordination among existing pipelines and stakeholders is essential for developing an effective and scalable supply network. Once siloed processes are broken down and rebuilt with interoperable, cooperative capabilities, healthcare partners can identify gaps in care, resources, populations, and other areas and launch solutions.
They say that prevention is the best medicine. It’s also a pretty darn great strategy to control costs by creating an efficient, cost-effective supply networking system whose infrastructure is designed to work with HLS partners to create a seamless delivery services ecosystem.
Whether your ecosystem faces supply or provider shortages due to extreme weather, global political unrest, or even an unprecedented pandemic, preemptive cooperative strategies will ensure a seamless flow of services and supplies along the care delivery continuum.
Rather than leaving distribution and delivery to guesswork, a digital supply network offers end-to-end visibility for every transaction along the customer’s journey, and that is pivotal for expanding data-based forecasting and inventory management.
HLS companies don’t have to reinvent the wheel to innovate their distribution channels, but it does require a closer look at the company’s infrastructure and how it can benefit from working with existing pipelines.
While the traditional supply chain merely observes the supply path, a digital-based network controls each touchpoint through coordinated interdependent channels. And it can respond to rapid changes without disrupting–and potentially delaying–inventory by identifying the easiest solution (even if the most strategic solution involves a partner) to counter the challenges.
“Supply chain resilience is an issue that most providers, distributors and manufacturers acknowledge. Promising technology innovations include solutions that identify the products that become critical in various disruption scenarios and then cross-reference clinically equivalent products across a broad network of manufacturers without competitive bias,” says Joe Walsh, founder of Supply Chain Sherpas. Implementing AI technology empowers HLS partners to be proactive through demand forecasting and better inventory demand management.
Agile responses to supply disruptions.
Is a supply chain disruption in your future? Statistically speaking, it probably is. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, companies experience a disruption lasting up to two months every 3.7 years.
While HLS partners focus on building a fool-proof supply network to ensure a flawless distribution system, it’s our resiliency during imperfect moments that showcase the value of a thoughtful supply network system. For instance, as the world watches tensions in Russia and Ukraine escalate, access to life-sustaining supplies isn’t possible within a traditional supply chain. Instead, a holistic, collaborative system among partners can swiftly pivot to alternative suppliers, channels, providers, etc., to ensure valuable resources reach those in need.
While today’s supply networking systems are complex, that doesn’t mean inventory management and distribution should be complicated. By moving away from linear supply chain management and incorporating a synchronous, intelligent, responsive, and agile model, HLS partners can expand cooperative resources and interoperable partnerships to ensure today’s patient care is seamless and accessible.
For more information on digital transformation and innovating supply chains, let’s talk.
Jayneel is VP, Healthcare & Life Sciences, here at Simplus. With a Ph.D. in engineering and MBA from Duke and over 15 years of experience, Jayneel designs and delivers empathy-driven innovative solutions in healthcare. He has developed digital strategies to reduce risk, increase visibility, and improve patient and member satisfaction. His passion is to enable better care through technology.