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Why Is Medical Supply Chain Resilience Important? [And How Medical Supply Chain Software Can Help]

September 28, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic created severe booms and busts in the supply of medical equipment and drugs needed by healthcare organizations worldwide. The pandemic also highlighted how fragile and vulnerable the medical supply chain is to industry shocks and extreme events.

According to a recent industry survey of 400 medical professionals, one of every four hospital employees has observed or been told about a recalled or outdated product being used on a patient. The majority—57%—witnessed supply chain issues where a physician didn't have the product required for a patient's procedure.

These sobering realities paint a picture of a healthcare system in dire need of supply chain resilience. In this article, we'll discuss why that's the case and how medical supply chain software makes a difference.

What Is Medical Supply Chain Resilience? Why Do You Need It?

Medical supply chain resilience refers to an organization's ability to maintain the flow of medical supplies despite disruptions. Disruptions can result from: 

A facility's medical supply chain is considered resilient if it can adapt to these disruptions and continue operating with minimal interference. 

Disruptions to the medical supply chain can significantly impact patient care. Patient care suffers when hospitals and other healthcare facilities cannot obtain the supplies they need. In some worst-case scenarios, this can lead to unrecoverable injuries or death. 

The stress of these events compounds with financial instability experienced when healthcare organizations can't rely on a continuous flow of supplies and services.

Medical supply chain resilience creates value for organizations on three fronts:

  1. Reduction in Operational Impact. Through proactive planning and execution, organizations can mitigate the effects of disruptions and continue to function.
  2. Higher Recovery Speed. Putting the right policies and procedures in place can help organizations get back on track and avoid long-term interruptions in service.
  3. Greater Extent of Recovery. Unlike traditional supply chain management, which focuses on maintaining operational continuity, medical supply chain resilience goes further by ensuring organizations can quickly and effectively adapt to changing conditions. This allows organizations to not only maintain operations but also improve them, even in the face of disruptions.

The Benefits of a Resilient Medical Supply Chain

Although skimping on diversification, supply chain technologies, and disaster recovery tools may seem cost-effective, doing so often ends up being more expensive for organizations down the line. 

Investing in supply chain resilience carries clear benefits.

Better Operational Efficiency

By investing in medical supply chain resilience, hospitals and medical centers can ensure their operations run smoothly during and after a disaster. This not only helps to improve the organization's efficiency but also reduces the chances of disruptions in the future.

Improved Productivity

When disruptions occur, employees often work overtime to compensate, and internal systems become overburdened. This can lead to an exhaustion of resources and decreased productivity. However, by investing in medical supply chain resilience, organizations can avoid these productivity losses and curb employee burnout.

Reduction in Risk Exposure

The more complex the supply chain, the greater the risk that parts of it can break down. However, hospitals can reduce this risk by utilizing resilient technologies that allow visibility into all operations across the network. Accessing real-time information about delays, shortages, and recalls allows providers the chance to compensate for these issues.

5 Suggestions for Building Resiliency

There are several things facilities can do to build more resiliency into their medical supply chains. Here are some suggestions.

1. Diversify Your Suppliers

One of the best ways to build resiliency into your medical supply chain is to diversify your supplier base. This means having multiple suppliers for each product or service you need. If one supplier cannot meet your needs or experiences a recall, you have others to pick up the slack.

2. Implement a Supply Chain Risk Management Plan

A supply chain risk management plan can help hospitals identify and mitigate risks throughout the supply chain. Facilities can avoid or minimize the impact of disruptions, including everything from supplier risks to transportation risks.

3. Empower Supply Chain Team Members

One of the most critical aspects of supply chain resiliency is empowering employees. Medical facilities can ensure that problems are addressed quickly and efficiently by giving proper authority to make decisions. Having a clear chain of command and training employees to handle disruptions can eliminate delays caused by uncertainty and indecision. 

4. Invest in Resilience-Building Initiatives Across All Departments

Building resilience cannot be done by the supply chain team alone. It takes a facility-wide effort to build a resilient organization. This means investing in resilience-building initiatives across all departments, from marketing to human resources. Doing so will ensure everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goal.

5. Implement Medical Supply Chain Software that Improve Visibility, Tracking, and Communication

Another way to improve resilience is by implementing technologies that enhance visibility and tracking throughout the supply chain. The result is that medical facilities can identify potential problems and address them before they cause disruptions.

Similarly, the right recall management software eliminates communication deserts by ensuring you get relevant notices of medical device and drug recalls without delay. This helps your staff avoid recall fatigue and reduces the risks associated with inadvertently using recalled products.  

Improve Resiliency with Hospital Supply Chain Software

The future of healthcare and its supply chain dependencies remain uncertain. There is no question the industry will continue to face challenges as the world progresses. However, one thing remains clear: Without adequate planning and preparation, the costs associated with supply chain disruptions will continue to increase for organizations dependent on a reliable medical supply chain.

When it comes to disruptions related to product recalls, we can help.

NotiSphere is a leading provider of innovative medical supply chain software that connects medical suppliers and health organizations, allowing real-time recall management. Helping to improve patient safety by mitigating the risk of missed drug and medical device recalls, we offer the solution needed to manage this critical element of your organization's medical supply chain resilience plan.

For more information on how NotiSphere can help, contact us today.

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