Healthcare Equipment Delays? Channel Partnerships Can Help!

January 2022 – The Journal of Healthcare Contracting

Metro top track system

Opening a new clinic or ambulatory surgery center on-time is always wrought with many challenges, including equipment lead times, construction delays, product loss/damage, and getting required biomedical checks completed. During the Covid-19 pandemic these challenges have become amplified. Demand is high, raw materials diminished, and logistics are bottlenecked all over the world. Lead times have lengthened considerably, including not only the healthcare equipment needed for a new healthcare facility but also construction materials. Exacerbated workforce shortages caused by the pandemic affects many phases of the supply chain, including manufacturing, planning, purchasing, warehousing, assembly, delivery, and biomedical start-up checks.

When faced with these new challenges, the healthcare supply chain responded in many constructive ways. Collaboration between manufacturers, distributors and customers intensified, and many innovative solutions evolved to meet ambitious construction deadlines. One of the harder hit product categories during Covid-19 was the Storage Solutions sector. Most stainless steel, chrome, and plastic, the three most prevalent storage materials, come from outside the US. Lead times for most items were approximately four weeks prior to Covid-19. They have increased to more than four months over the last two years.

CME Corp is an equipment-centric full-service distributor that offers turn-key solutions for new construction projects. Metro is the world’s leading manufacturer of storage equipment. They teamed up these past two years to innovate some storage solutions and meet some very tight timelines for their mutual customers. 

Nevada Ortho Clinic Needs Equipment in Eight Weeks

Late in 2020, when the healthcare supply chain was really starting to feel the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new 18 room orthopedic clinic was built in western Nevada. The equipment needed for the new clinic was ordered in mid-December, with a go-live date in mid-February, a tough timeline in even the best of times! They ordered a Metro top track system for their storage needs. When the order first was submitted, the system was backordered until mid-March, which was not acceptable to the customer. Metro, CME, and the customer got together to strategize on how to meet this near impossible goal. Metro shipped in temporary loaner carts and prioritized/expedited the top tracks. Since items were shipped piecemeal, CME had to deploy their installation team several times to complete the install. They had enough shelving configured early enough so the clinic could stock most of their supplies. The installation took three deliveries over a two-week period, the last delivery being on the day the clinic opened. CME’s install team went beyond the call of duty, as there was also a massive snowstorm during this timeframe. The CME project management team, Metro’s customer service, and the customer communicated almost daily during this project, which was crucial to getting it completed. The clinic opened on time and the customer was extremely satisfied!

Massachusetts Ambulatory Surgery Center Passes DPH Inspection

Customized CAD drawing of top track shelving

Early in 2021, a Boston-area surgery center (ASC) expanded their footprint and added six new operating rooms. The facility needed extra storage space, and a walk-through with Metro and CME account managers culminated in a CAD drawing that detailed several areas of high density, mobile, and stationary shelving solutions. The DPH inspection was scheduled for mid-May so that the new space could be certified for use. As time passed, Metro realized some of the items would not meet this inspection date. CME, Metro, and the customer met virtually to discuss options and possible solutions. With the customer’s blessing, Metro substituted some of the materials and carts to be able to meet the deadlines. The CME team was able to complete 80% of the installation in time for the inspection. The customer was ecstatic and the ORs were in use the next week.

Nashville MOB Maximizes Storage Space

In early 2021, a Nashville-area medical center was expanding their medical office building (MOB). At their current location they had big storage issues, as supplies were literally falling off shelves due to inadequate space. The new build-out was 61,500 sq. ft. and the storage space needed to be planned in advance to meet their needs. Metro, CME, the customer project manager, and the architect worked on the layout collaboratively and decided on top track shelving to maximize the storage space. The project included 201 shelving units with 1,058 shelves and 5,290 linear feet of shelving. The customer would never have supplies falling off the shelves in this new space! CME’s account manager worked with the customer and Metro early enough so that they could plan for extended lead-times on this project. The order was placed in September and all items will be delivered on-time to meet a February, 2022 need-by date.

Lessons Learned

The current pandemic continues to cripple the healthcare supply chain and will not resolve itself anytime soon. Healthcare systems need to be mindful when addressing new construction needs. Here are five things we recommend:

  • Plan early and include distributors, manufacturers, and fellow team members in this early development stage. Get lead times well ahead of the project so that timelines can be met.
  • Order early and work with partners who will over-communicate and give you visibility into where your products are at all times.
  • Look at alternate products if lead-times move out too far.
  • Find a partner who can help augment your depleted workforce including logistics and biomedical services.
  • Be flexible and look for partners who are flexible also. These are tough times, and the best solutions can come from collaboration and being adaptable.

CME Corp is a full-service healthcare equipment and turn-key logistics company providing personalized support and service. With service centers nationwide, CME offers more than 2 million medical products from a total of over 2,000 manufacturers. CME is a healthcare system’s complete equipment solution by providing product selection, sales, warehousing, assembly, staging, direct-to-site delivery, installation, and biomedical services for all its equipment.

For over 80 years, Metro has been the world’s leading manufacturer of storage and transport equipment. From our innovative wire and polymer shelving lines to the revolutionary Starsys product line, and a broad range of healthcare cart solutions including the Lifeline emergency cart, Flexline procedure carts and Lionville series medication carts, Metro puts space to work in healthcare facilities of all sizes.

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