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By Sam Jermy | Supply Chain Digital
In conjunction with the company’s 15-year anniversary, Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX) interviewed provider and supplier customers to explore their vision for the healthcare supply chain of the future.
As the healthcare industry continues to change, organisations are seeking new ways to remove waste, cut costs and improve patient care. GHX spoke with a select group of customers, from large- and mid-sized hospitals to some of the biggest suppliers in the world, for their perspectives on how the supply chain will help usher in healthcare transformation and its role in the coming two decades.
Based on those interviews, eight key trends emerged that illustrate the strategic role the healthcare supply chain of the future will play in delivering value and insight to all areas of the organisation.
Bruce Johnson, CEO and President of GHX, said: “For the past 15 years, the industry has been laser focused on basic cost-cutting initiatives. Today, healthcare has the opportunity to build off of those foundational changes to not only help solve the cost-quality equation, but also to influence the industry’s future effectiveness.
Our interviewees strongly believe that when we look out 10-to-20 years, the supply chain is the answer for creating long-term industry viability and ensuring quality patient care. GHX is committed to a Future Supply Chain that continues to deliver solutions that help both providers and suppliers successful navigate future technology-driven supply chain opportunities.
1) The future supply chain will be a goldmine for data
The value of clean, accurate data is undisputed, but many healthcare organisations have a long way to go to realise its full potential. The data coming from the future supply chain will not only be transaction-focused, but also leveraged business wide.
Many interviewees noted the future supply chain will sit on a ‘goldmine’ of outcomes data that will be documented, recorded and used to make better decisions for patient care. As more data is collected (down to the patient level), every department within an organisation will have an unprecedented understanding of where there is real value.
2) It will be part of the C-suite and involved in strategic projects across the company
Thanks to the value realised across the organisation, the future supply chain will have a more prominent seat in the C-suite and be a linchpin in projects across different areas of the business. One provider-side interviewee noted: “Gone are the days where the supply chain was relegated to the basement; we are becoming a pillar of the organisation.”
3) It will lead the standardisation of care
One of the most significant ways healthcare will become sustainable is by focusing on the standardisation of care, particularly consistency from a patient perspective. The future supply chain will support and guide this change, as it sits on valuable data that can help determine not only the best price, but also the best outcomes, which will help change long-standing, inefficient and wasteful processes.
4) It will be in lockstep with clinicians
Customers predict a “clinically integrated supply chain” where supply chain professionals and clinicians work closely and side by side. Physicians, recognising they need to adjust their processes for the greater good of patients, will look to the supply chain for guidance, support and knowledge on product price points, outcomes and alternatives.
In turn, supply chain professionals will gain clinician trust by demonstrating the value the supply chain and its data can deliver. Supply chain specialists and clinicians will meet regularly to help ensure continuous improvements, share ideas, compare products/outcomes and they are always making the informed decisions.
5) It will be predictive and rarely, if ever, falter
The healthcare supply chain data will not only be used to make better decisions, but also leveraged for predictive analytics. To be fluid and fast in getting products to clinicians, supply chain professionals will use data to better anticipate what will be needed, and not falter or lose speed if a product is discontinued or backordered.
One interviewee commented that a nurse within his organisation likened the future supply chain to water, saying: “I don’t care how the product gets here, I just want it when I need it. It’s like water from the tap; I don’t care where it comes from, as long as it’s there when I turn it on.”
6) It will be based on long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between trading partners
For years, healthcare trading partners have talked about creating better, more transparent and communicative relationships with each other, but few have actually walked the talk. In the future supply chain, these ideal relationships will come to fruition. Providers and suppliers will work toward the mutual goal of improved patient care and find ways to better align incentives to succeed.
7) It will expand to wherever the patient goes
The future healthcare supply chain will no longer solely reside within the in-patient/out-patient facility, but rather expand to wherever the patient is physically located. This is due to greater consolidation and collaboration among health systems (telemedicine networks, homecare/nursing home partnerships, etc.), as well as because reducing patient readmission rates has become more critical with the advent of healthcare reform.
The healthcare supply chain of the future will be extended past the four walls of the hospital to help ensure patients get the care they need wherever they are and that they do not return to the hospital.
8) It will adapt to personalised medicine and the more-informed consumer
With disruptive technologies on the horizon like 3D printers and improved imaging and diagnostics, the future supply chain will adapt with new manufacturing and buying processes around “personalised medicine.” This is also the case with more connected healthcare consumers, who are increasingly researching the best hospitals and products for them. The future supply chain has to be prepared for and eventually allow consumers to shop for products and implants like they do online or at a brick and mortar store.