This year has provided the U.S. healthcare supply chain with many valuable lessons. Now more than ever, hospitals and health systems need an accurate picture of product location and quantity, as well as the reliability of the supplier. And, the industry as a whole must look for ways to work more collaboratively to ensure products go to where they’re needed.
In today’s climate of marketplace uncertainty amid a pandemic, the importance of a Healthcare Product Safety Net has come front and center for supply chain leaders. The following are 5 components of a Healthcare Product Safety Net to ensure availability of SAFE products.
No. 1: Visibility
Visibility must be shared across all stakeholders, meaning hospitals, distributors and manufacturers. It’s not simply seeing it from a single source, because the product that you require might be down the street or somewhere else.
The key component is the accurate representation of the product. Because there’s no common nomenclature in healthcare — and everybody describes things differently — visibility is defined by an accurate representation of what you were looking for against what’s available in the marketplace. With medical products, that’s very easy to get disconnected, because a lot of products look the same, sound the same, yet are completely different. It’s critically important that you have accurate representation.
No. 2: Access
Once you have visibility, you need a smooth, easy and reliable transacting process for the Healthcare Product Safety Net.
The way the exchange is structured is critical. With HPX, it’s a set-and-forget process. You go in, match your products on the exchange, and then HPX finds those products for you. HPX does all the groundwork. The transaction process also needs to be aligned with the processes of your organization. If you’re forced to go outside of that, you may have issues.
No. 3: Safety
The word safety can be interchangeable with security and protection. Whether a buyer or seller, you need a model that ensures the sources you’re transacting with are validated. You have confidence in their credibility, that they store products in the correct condition, and that they accurately turn things.
There should be protection with a documented chain of custody for the product. If you’re a buyer, you want your source to have all the documentation, both physical and digital, to be able to prove that this product came from the original manufacturer, and that it’s authentic, safe and secure. If you’re a seller, and the product is not what you represented, there should be no obligation on the part of the buyer to pay for that product.
No. 4: Simplicity
The fourth component is simplicity. If the Healthcare Product Safety Net is not simple, people won’t use it. It must be easy to navigate and align with your current processes.
No. 5: Stakeholder engagement
The final critical component is stakeholder engagement. If you’re going to join a safety net, you don’t want to wait until you have a problem to use it. For a safety net to work, all the participants have to participate. You should actively look for opportunities to buy and sell on the exchange, move inventory, trade with your partners, etc., in a way that gets you comfortable, so that when you actually do need to utilize the exchange, you are well-positioned to be able to do so and everything goes smoothly.
Consider a firehouse. A community builds a firehouse not because there is a fire, but in case they have a fire. The community builds the facility, trains firemen, and learns how to put fires out together well before ever showing up to one at somebody’s house during the real thing.
It’s the same with a Healthcare Product Safety Net. If you’re going to join a safety net, it’s critical that each stakeholder is engaged. Even if the safety tools are put in place, without engagement, it doesn’t work. All the other parties need to be engaged.