Building resiliency in the supply chain

AHRMM Director of Supply Chain: America’s supply chain teams are working constantly to meet today’s challenges

Heading into the upcoming respiratory season, there remain a number of challenges for hospital and health system supply chain teams, said Mike Schiller, AHRMM Director of Supply Chain. “First and foremost personal protective equipment (PPE) has been, and continues to be, strained since this pandemic began,” he said. “Worldwide demand for PPE, which is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced, and the recent increase in patient cases will put more stress on an already overtaxed and fragile health care supply chain.” To meet current demand, hospitals continue to turn to non-traditional or novel manufacturers and suppliers to bridge their current supply needs and to increase their emergency stockpiles.

Testing requirements and the supplies necessary to support testing is another area of focus and remains a challenge – inside and outside of the health care environment. Hospitals are building their safety stocks of critical pharmaceutical products including sedatives, neuromuscular and vasopressors in preparation for an expected surge this fall in COVID cases.

Finally, with the pending availability of a vaccine, Schiller said supplies that support vaccinations must be front of mind including alcohol wipes, syringes and basic PPE to health care workers administering the vaccine.

Key areas

While it’s early, there are a number of key areas supply chain professionals are focusing to build resiliency into their supply chains, Schiller said. Increasing on-hand inventory levels and relaxing Just-In-Time inventory principles. Contracting will change with some considering moving to multisource vs. sole source contracts, and opportunities to continue, or to strengthen sourcing relationships with local or regional companies that have been established over the past few months.

Longer-term objectives include the adoption and utilization of data standards, including the Unique Device Identifier (UDI); needed transparency, inventory availability and utilization data upstream and downstream within the health care supply chain; improved/robust analytics capabilities.

“Given all of these challenges, America’s hospitals and health systems are working constantly to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, to protect our front line heroes, caregivers and patients,” Schiller said.