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Healthcare Supply Chain: Overcoming Connection Deserts

April 17, 2022

Despite living in a world where we are easily connected to everyone and everything, it’s unfortunate that healthcare continues to have “connection deserts”. Although we have become accustomed to having information at our fingertips with the ability to readily act upon it, the healthcare supply chain has some serious connection challenges.

For example, when suppliers issue a recall, they overnight envelopes with recall alerts to tens of thousands of locations at healthcare provider organizations to quickly communicate the recall and prevent items from being used. However, they fail to realize that given how provider organizations typically coordinate recalls, these alerts will not be received by the appropriate staff for days and sometimes weeks.

This is a disconnect that has existed for decades. Well intended suppliers manage recalls in terms of locations that received the affected item and have little understanding or connection with the recall coordinator at the provider, who needs to manage the recall. The information is not being directly sent to the right individuals.

This article was first published in the Power Supply Expert Series

Once the provider receives the recall, the disconnect continues in the healthcare supply chain.

Suppliers are frequently required by the FDA to get acknowledgements back from the affected provider organizations, confirming they have received the alert and acted on it. The suppliers need to achieve a certain level of responses or “compliance”.

Because of the delayed distribution to the correct person, the supplier may assume the hospital is not responding in a timely fashion. Ultimately this results in multiple, duplicate communications, further confusing the actual situation.

Meanwhile, many provider organizations don’t realize that using third party “aggregators” doesn’t close the loop with the supplier, creating additional inefficiencies and delays in the process.

These failures in efficient, timely communication, or “connection deserts” have existed for decades because each side of the industry has been unaware of the challenges faced by the other side. The entire set of steps that providers and suppliers must jointly take to properly deal with a recall is so complex that rarely is one person aware of all the steps.  This leads to significant inefficiency in the entire communication process.

Addressing these informational challenges has become increasingly important, as the number of medical device recalls have increased significantly over the last few years and the number of affected units has exploded. These connection deserts must be eliminated to maximize the impact of medical device risk management. An effective recall communication program is critical to minimize patient risk.

This article was first published by Power Supply. You can find the original pdf for download here.

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